When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Cardinal Stadium
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Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 194, Sirius Channel 113
Records: Kentucky (8-3, 5-3 SEC); Louisville (2-9, 0-8 ACC)
Series: Is tied 15-15, but Louisville leads the modern series (since 1994) 15-9
Favorite: Kentucky is favored by 17 points
The story line
Kentucky tries to reach nine wins in a regular season for the first time since Fran Curci’s 1977 Wildcats went 10-1 and give archrival Louisville one final moment of agony from what has been a nightmare 2018 season for the reeling Cardinals.
The big threat
Complacency. Louisville has endured an all-systems failure in 2018. Out of 129 FBS football programs, the Cardinals are 105th in total offense, 116th in total defense, 119th in scoring and 127th in points allowed. U of L’s lackluster play earned Bobby Petrino a pink slip after the season’s 10th week. The Cardinals’ performance under interim head coach Lorenzo Ward was little improved in last week’s 52-10 pasting by North Carolina State. Nevertheless, rivalry games can be unpredictable, so Kentucky needs to play with purpose from the opening kickoff.
On the spot
Mark Stoops. The Kentucky head coach noted after UK went to Tennessee as a favorite only to suffer a dispiriting 24-7 loss that the Wildcats have been better as “the hunter” rather than “the hunted.” With the Cats a big favorite against Louisville, it is incumbent on the Kentucky head man to find the right tone to get his team motivated to play well in a game it should win.
Is conflicted. Kentucky is in position to beat its archrival to clinch its best football regular season in 41 years but UK’s second-half-of-the-season offensive slog and a demoralizing loss at Tennessee two weeks ago robbed The Long-Suffering UK Football Fan of the level of joy one would expect from a potential 9-3 season. A loss to struggling Louisville would be a titanic disaster but a decisive Kentucky victory would stamp a good season with a positive ending.
Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory