Kentucky (0-0) at Louisville (0-0)
When: 3:30 p.m. TV: ABC-36
Where: Papa John's Cardinal Stadium in Louisville
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2009 records: Kentucky 7-6, Louisville 4-8
Series: Kentucky leads 13-9
Last meeting: Kentucky won 31-27 on Sept. 19, 2009, in Lexington.
This has always been the great equalizer in the UK-U of L series. The Wildcats had an interception and fumble-return touchdown in a 27-2 win in 2008, and the Cards climbed out of an early hole in last year's game thanks to a trio of third-quarter turnovers by Kentucky. The Cats needed a late touchdown catch by Randall Cobb to escape with a win, and if they put the ball on the ground at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium, they could be headed home with an 'L.'
Unsung heroes on defense
Both teams have major questions on the defensive side of the ball and will need contributions from several unproven players. Who steps up? With so many new faces on both sides, there most likely will be blown assignments and busted coverages. If a young, unknown defensive player wants to make a name for himself, this is the time to do it.
The first quarter
Kentucky has momentum. Louisville is trying to dig out of a hole. If the Wildcats can come out and establish themselves early, the Cards' willpower could be shaken and UK could cruise to a victory. But if Kentucky struggles out of the gate and lets U of L and its jacked-up home crowd gain confidence, it could be a long afternoon for the Cats.
There's a lot on the line for Joker Phillips and the UK program. A win would allow the Wildcats to hold on to their dreams of a breakthrough season and probably head into the SEC opener at Florida with a 3-0 record. A loss would eliminate any buzz for the upcoming home games with Western Kentucky and Akron and, fairly or unfairly, raise questions about the prospects for both the 2010 season and the direction of the program under Phillips.