Mark Story

Blue Preview: Your guide to No. 15 Kentucky’s game at Louisville

Kentucky safety Mike Edwards made the first of his two interceptions of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in UK’s 41-38 upset of No. 11 U of L in 2016, the Wildcats’ most recent visit to Cardinal Stadium.
Kentucky safety Mike Edwards made the first of his two interceptions of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson in UK’s 41-38 upset of No. 11 U of L in 2016, the Wildcats’ most recent visit to Cardinal Stadium. Lexington

Kentucky at Louisville

When: 7 p.m. Saturday

Where: Cardinal Stadium

TV: ESPN2 (play-by-play, Kevin Brown; analysis, Andre Ware)

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

Last meeting: Louisville beat Kentucky 44-17 on Nov. 25, 2017, at Kroger Field

Favorite: Kentucky is favored by 17 points

The University of Kentucky football team celebrates a 34-23 victory over Middle Tennessee State at Kroger Field on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018.

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.

After beating Middle Tennessee 34-23 in its final home game on Saturday, Kentucky finishes out the regular season at Louisville on Nov. 24, 2018. UK linebacker Kash Daniel says don't be fooled by U of L's 2-9 record.

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.

UK senior tight end C.J. Conrad says the Cats need to "play better in big moments" after their loss to Georgia on Saturday. He and other UK leaders will keep this team on track, he said.

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.

Kentucky football's seniors play their final home game on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018 when UK faces Middle Tennessee. UK head coach Mark Stoops said Monday the class deserves a lot of credit for what it has accomplished.

The mood

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

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After Kentucky's 34-23 win over Middle Tennessee in its home finale Saturday, UK coach Mark Stoops talked about the decision star running back Benny Snell will have to make about the NFL Draft. Snell rushed for 116 yards in the win.

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