The No. 7 Louisville Cardinals (2-0) travel to face the Kentucky Wildcats (1-1) in their annual in-state rivalry showdown. This has been a very streaky series as Louisville won four straight from ’03-’06, Kentucky won four in a row from ’07-’10, and the Cardinals have taken the last two, including a 32-14 home victory over the Wildcats in 2012.
Last time in Lexington in 2011, Teddy Bridgewater replaced injured starter Will Stein in the second quarter and went on to throw two touchdowns passes to lead the Cardinals to a 24-17 victory. Bridgewater has started every game since. Oddsmakers have installed Louisville as a 13.5-point favorite over Kentucky with a total set of 59.5 points.
Why Louisville Covers
The Cardinals are a legitimate national title contender in 2013. They have 16 starters back from last year’s 11-2 team that beat Florida 33-23 in the Sugar Bowl. That includes Heisman Trophy candidate Bridgewater, who completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 3,718 yards with 27 touchdowns and eight interceptions last year. Bridgewater has led the Cardinals to an impressive 2-0 start in 2013.
Louisville was awesome in its opener, thumping a solid Ohio team 49-7 at home as a 21-point favorite. It outgained the Bobcats 615-273 for the game behind 355 passing yards and five touchdowns from Bridgewater. The junior quarterback is completing 76.7 percent of his passes for 752 yards with nine touchdowns and one interception through two contests and has clearly lived up to the hype thus far.
After getting beaten by Western Kentucky 26-35 in its opener, Kentucky clearly has a long ways to go in terms of rebuilding under first-year head coach Mark Stoops. The Hilltoppers amassed 487 total yards in the win, doing whatever they wanted to offensively. Brandon Doughty passes for 271 yards and a touchdown, and WKU rushed for 216 yards as a team. Bridgewater and company could have their way with this suspect Kentucky defense.
Plays on road favorites of 10.5 to 21 points (LOUISVILLE) – solid team from last season – outgaining their opponents by 75 or more yards/game are 31-8 (79.5%) ATS over the last 10 seasons. Kentucky is 0-9 against the spread as an underdog of 10.5 to 21 points over the last three seasons. Louisville has won five of its last seven visits to Lexington. The Cardinals are 16-5 against the number in their last 21 road games.
Kentucky is 0-9 against the spread as an underdog of 10.5 to 21 points over the last three seasons.
Why Kentucky Covers
Louisville has certainly been getting a lot of hype since winning the Big East and beating Florida in the Sugar Bowl last season. It has started to create expectations for itself that could be hard to live up to in terms of covering spreads week in and week out. You have to remember that the Cardinals had a ridiculous six wins last season by a touchdown or less. It’s not like they were blowing teams out on a weekly basis.
Kentucky is in good hands with Stoops as he has already done an excellent job of bringing in talent. Plus, he has a lot of returning talent to work with this season with 14 starters and 57 lettermen coming back from last year’s squad. You have to like the resiliency of this team as it improved a ton from Week 1 to Week 2. After losing to Western Kentucky in the opener, the Wildcats came back with an emphatic 41-7 home victory over Miami (Ohio) last week as a 17.5-point favorite.
The offense looked fantastic for a second straight week as the Wildcats outgained the Redhawks 675-122 for the game. They are averaging 33.5 points and 547.0 total yards per game through the first two weeks. Kentucky quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow have combined for 43 of 63 passing for 626 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Raymond Sanders is averaging 6.8 yards per carry as the featured back as well.
Plays against a road team (LOUISVILLE) – after gaining 475 or more total yards in their previous game against opponent after gaining 6.75 or more yards/play in 2 consecutive games are 68-31 (68.7%) ATS since 1992. The Cardinals are 0-4 against the spread in their last four games after scoring more than 40 points in their previous game.
My Early Lean: Louisville -13.5