When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium)
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 191, Sirius Channel 138
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Records: Kentucky 7-4 (4-4 SEC), Louisville 7-4 (4-4 ACC)
Series: Kentucky leads 15-14, but Louisville leads the modern series (since 1994) 14-9.
Last meeting: Kentucky upset No. 11 Louisville 41-38 on Nov. 26, 2016, at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Favorite: Louisville is favored by 10 points
The story line
Kentucky seeks an eighth win in a regular season for the first time since 1984 and victories over archrival Louisville in back-to-back seasons for the first time since 2009 and 2010. Louisville and star junior quarterback Lamar Jackson seek revenge for the stunning 41-38 upset loss the Cats hung on No. 11 U of L last season. It seems likely this will be the final game in the commonwealth of Kentucky for U of L’s Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, who is NFL Draft-eligible after this season.
The big threat
Lamar Jackson. Statistically, the U of L star has been as-good-to-better in 2017 as in his Heisman Trophy-winning season a year ago. Jackson has run for 1,287 yards and 17 touchdowns while throwing for 3,273 yards and 23 TDs. With the UK-U of L game tied at 38 a season ago, Jackson had Louisville driving for what would likely have been the winning score when he lost a fumble at the UK 10-yard line with 1:45 left in the game. Instead, Stephen Johnson engineered a UK drive that set up Austin MacGinnis’ 47-yard, game-winning field goal with 12 seconds left. After U of L blasted Syracuse 56-10 last Saturday, Jackson said he’s been waiting for a year to make things right for that lost fumble against Kentucky.
Who is on the spot
Kentucky defense. A season ago, UK didn’t stop Lamar Jackson — he ran for 171 yards and two touchdowns and passed for 281 yards and two TDs. What the Cats did, however, was force four turnovers, three interceptions and the game-deciding fumble, by Jackson. It may be asking too much from the football gods, but Kentucky needs again to force the Louisville QB to turn the ball over to have a chance to win.
Is apprehensive. It seems many Kentucky backers will determine their feelings on the 2017 season based on who takes home the Governor’s Cup. A UK win would give the Cats a historic eighth regular-season victory for the first time since the first Reagan Administration. It would also mean UK had victories over Tennessee and Louisville in the same season for the first time since 1924. A UK loss, however, will leave the Cats at 7-5 for a second straight season and leave a lot of the BBN seeing the season more as a missed opportunity than a full-fledged success.