The Louisville Cardinals (6-5, 5-3) will battle the Kentucky Wildcats (5-6, 2-6) in a battle of the Bluegrass State Saturday afternoon. Louisville has won the last four meetings, including a 44-40 home win on November 29, 2014 in the most recent matchup. Kentucky covered the line in that contest as they were a 13.5 point underdog in the contest.
Louisville had won four straight before falling 45-34 on the road to Pitt last Saturday. Kentucky had lost five straight games before bulldozing Charlotte 58-10 last Saturday at home in non-conference action. Kickoff from Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky is scheduled for 12:00 pm ET and will be televised on the SEC Network. Louisville is currently a 6.5 point favorite with the over/under set at 52.5 points in this contest.
Louisville led 10-7 after one quarter against Pitt but the Cardinals were outscored 35-14 in the second quarter to fall behind 42-24; they never recovered. The Cardinals were outplayed in all facets of the game: they were outgained 476-354, gave up 25 first downs while picking up 17 and committed the only turnover in the game. Louisville was dominated in the time of possession battle as the Panthers held the ball for 37:38 in the game while the Cardinals had possession for just 22:22; their lone turnover was a pick six, which came up big in the game.
The Cardinals are still working on their offense due to multiple quarterbacks under center as they are 38th (253.1 yards per game) in passing offense and are currently 95th in the nation in rushing (145.6 yards per game) this season; Louisville averages 28 points a game and are currently tied for 47th in scoring defense by allowing 24.4 points allowed per game. Three quarterbacks have played for Louisville this season; the trio has combined to complete 57.4 percent of their passes for 2,784 yards with 18 touchdowns and 12 picks. Lamar Jackson (115 of 200, 57.5 percent completion rate, 1483 yards, 9 TD, 7 INT, team high 548 rushing yards, 7 TD) has seen the most snaps. Kyle Bolin (76 of 132, 1109 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT) is next in line on the depth chart as Reggie Bonnafon (14 of 24, 192 yards, 2 TD, INT, 161 rushing yards) has fallen down the depth chart. Brandon Radcliff is the main running back for the Cardinals as he has 114 carries for 525 yards and five scores while Jeremy Smith contributes 60 carries for 270 yards and three scores. Jaylen Smith is third on the team with 26 receptions for 366 yards and a score; James Quick (31 receptions, team high 457 yards, 4 TD), Traveon Samuel (17 catches, 162 yards, TD), Jamari Staples (team high 35 receptions, 599 yards, 3 TD), Micky Crum (13 grabs, 161 yards, 2 TD) and Ja’Quay Savage (12 catches, 135 yards, TD) are other targets in the passing game. John Wallace has hit all 38 extra points but is 14 of 19 on field goals with a long of 50 yards.
Kentucky led 10-0 after one quarter and 20-3 at halftime before pouring it on to snap their losing skid. The Wildcats outgained the 49ers 544-233, picked up 22 first downs while allowing 14 and held the ball for 32:12 to Charlotte’s 27:48 in the game. In addition, Kentucky forced three turnovers in the game while committing just one turnover of their own in the game; one of those takeaways was a pick six in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats kept Charlotte out of the end zone until less than five minutes remained in the contest.
The Wildcats are currently standing 80th in the nation in passing offense (210.3 yards) and 68th in the nation in rushing as they average 169.1 yards on the ground per game. Kentucky is scoring 24.7 points per contest, which is tied for 100th in the nation in scoring offense; they are currently 61st in the nation in scoring defense as they allow 26.5 points per game. Patrick Towles has completed 180 of 322 passes for 2,077 yards with nine touchdowns and 13 interceptions on the year plus 64 rushing yards and five scores. Drew Barker is the backup and has hit 29 of 48 passes for 236 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Stanley Williams is the team’s leading rusher with 114 carries for 818 yards and five scores; Jojo Kemp contributes 541 yards plus six scores on 93 carries and Mikel Horton has 69 carries for 274 yards along with three scores. Dorian Baker is the team’s leading receiver with 52 catches for 514 yards plus three touchdowns; Garrett Johnson (44 receptions, team high 653 yards, 2 TD), Jeff Badet (29 grabs, 430 yards, 2 TD) and Blake Bone (20 catches, 210 yards, TD) are other targets for Towles to look for in the aerial assault. Austin MacGinnis has hit 19 of 20 extra points and 13 of 16 field goals on the year with a long of 48 yards; Miles Butler is 11 of 12 on extra points while connecting on all three field goal attempts.
Louisville is 4-1 ATS in their last five after running for less than 100 yards in their last game, 15-5 ATS in their last 20 after a straight up loss and 11-4 ATS in their last 15 after allowing more than 40 points. Kentucky is 5-17 ATS in their last 22 after an ATS win, 2-9 ATS in their last 11 in November, 1-5 ATS in their last six on grass, 1-6 ATS in their last seven overall, 1-6 ATS in their last seven after a straight up win of at least 20 points and 0-4 ATS in their last four against teams with a winning record.
The Cardinals are bowl eligible and have won six of eight after starting the year 0-3. Kentucky needs a win to become bowl eligible but they’ve struggled in this series as they don’t have the weapons to deal with Louisville on either side of the ball. In what should be another tough game, Louisville grinds out the win and breaks the hearts of Kentucky fans.