UK Football

John Clay: This is a win both UK and U of L need

As the clock ticks down on the Kentucky-Louisville Saturday night showdown, let's break one of the oldest coach rules in the book.

Let's not play it one game at a time.

Let's look ahead.

Why so brazen, Batman? Because this is the year in which I am throwing out my normal contrarian argument against the dreaded one-loss-and-you're-done theory. This is the year I abandon my chronic contention that the loser of the annual Governor's Cup clash can still recover and forge a successful football season.

This year, after seeing the teams and studying the schedules, overcoming a defeat might be tough to do.

If you're Kentucky, you have Florida next week, the same Florida you haven't beaten since Ronald Reagan was in the White House. (That year was 1986.) Florida has a new coach this year in Will "Boom" Muschamp but apparently the Gators have the same athletically terrifying defense, given the fact the Gators have not allowed a touchdown in their first two games.

Then comes a visit to LSU on a Saturday in which you might want to avert your eyes.

Next on your agenda is South Carolina, which you did happen to beat last year for the first time in Steve Spurrier's lifetime. But if you remember, South Carolina led 28-10 at intermission before it experienced various and uncontrollable brain spasms and you rallied for the 31-28 triumph.

South Carolina went on to win the SEC East, by the way. It has star running back Marcus Lattimore and star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery. And you have to play the Gamecocks in Columbia.

Thankfully, if you are Kentucky you are off the next week, giving you an extra week to get out of the inevitable walking boot.

If you're Louisville, the week after your trip behind enemy lines, you welcome Marshall to Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. You would count that as a probable victory except for the fact you just lost to Florida International when you were counting that as a probable victory.

Then comes a visit to North Carolina, where the fact that the Tar Heels have been in turmoil has not stopped them from starting 2-0.

After that, Louisville travels to Cincinnati, which despite going 4-8 last season beat Louisville at Papa John's.

Beyond that, among the remaining dates on the Cardinals calendar are a trip to West Virginia, a home game with Pittsburgh and a visit to South Florida — the same bullish Bulls who turned Brian Kelly a deep purple when beating the Irish at Notre Dame.

In other words, whether you are Kentucky or Louisville, there is a need to harvest wins before the weather turns cold, really cold.

There is one caveat to this line of sky-is-falling thinking: Both teams are young.

Louisville is practically just out of the cradle. Most of the Cardinals' better players are experiencing college football for the first time. And it shows, as witnessed by poor collegiate neophyte Eli Rogers fielding that punt in his own end zone last week against FIU. Fellow wideout DeVante Parker has a tremendous career ahead of him, as soon as he figures out the pass coverages in front of him.

Louisville quarterback Will Stein may have something of a beard, but it's not a gray beard.

Though not quite as young, Kentucky has experienced some early growing pains. Where the offensive line is concerned, it's just been pain. Four starters missed a substantial part of training camp. The fifth, tackle Billy Joe Murphy, sprained an MCL in the opener. Senior center Matt Smith, who hasn't played in a game yet because of a sprained ankle, could be on the field Saturday night.

So given Louisville's youth issues and Kentucky's injury issues, both teams will conceivably improve as the year progresses. Then again, given the impending upgrades in competition, improvement will be a requirement.

That's why tonight's winner will be thankful to have a victory in the bank.

The loser, meanwhile, could face a tough row to hoe.

UK leads 14-9 all time; U of L leads modern-day series 9-8

Date Location Winner Score

Oct. 26, 1912 Lexington Kentucky 41-0

Nov. 22, 1913 Louisville Kentucky 20-0

Nov. 14, 1914 Lexington Kentucky 42-0

Nov. 6, 1915 Louisville Kentucky 15-0

Oct. 14, 1922 Lexington Kentucky 73-0

Oct. 4, 1924 Lexington Kentucky 29-0

Sept. 3, 1994 Lexington Kentucky 20-14

Sept. 2, 1995 Lexington Louisville 13-10

Aug. 31, 1996 Lexington Louisville 38-14

Aug. 30, 1997 Lexington Kentucky 38-24

Sept. 5, 1998 Louisville Kentucky 68-34

Sept. 4, 1999 Lexington Louisville 56-28

Sept, 2, 2000 Louisville Louisville x-40-34

Sept. 1, 2001 Lexington Louisville 36-10

Sept. 1, 2002 Louisville Kentucky 22-17

Aug. 31, 2003 Lexington Louisville 40-24

Sept. 5, 2004 Louisville Louisville 28-0

Sept. 4, 2005 Lexington Louisville 31-24

Sept. 3, 2006 Louisville Louisville 59-28

Sept. 15, 2007 Lexington Kentucky 40-34

Aug. 31, 2008 Louisville Kentucky 27-2

Sept. 19, 2009 Lexington Kentucky 31-27

Sept. 4, 2010 Louisville Kentucky 23-16


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