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Kentucky vs. Louisville

Prediction - Analysis

Current Odds - Kentucky -3

9/4/10

Rivalries are a great way to start the college football season. Perhaps it's not the biggest one, but there will be many eyes on the Kentucky vs. Louisville opener on September 4 at Papa John's Stadium at 3:30 PM EST. The Wildcats have won the past three games against the Cardinals, but Louisville won 7 of 8 prior to that streak. UK leads the all time series 13-9. Last year's game was a thrilling 31-27 classic win for UK. Though Louisville is depleted they have a fearless new leader in head coach Charlie Strong. This game promises to be one of the best in the first week of the season.

Joker Phillips takes over as the head coach of the Kentucky Wildcats. The former offensive coordinator feels good about this team's chances of downing Louisville. He gets back 11 combined starters. The team with the most rushing yards has won this game for 10 consecutive games. The Wildcats return last years top two rushers RB Derrick Locke and WR Randall Cobb. Both are members of the preseason All-SEC First Team. Both will need to put up big numbers in order to win this game. Morgan Newton takes over at QB after playing a bit last year. The sophomore is built for the position at 6-4 235, but he has to prove himself as an effective passer.

The defense in Lexington features LB Danny Trevethan who ranked second on team with 82 tackles and 5 for a loss in 2009 despite starting only 6 games. He will be aided by top freshman LB Tim Patterson. The 6-4 220 defender will make a name for himself very quickly. The defensive line returns 3 of 4 starters and has plenty of experience coming off the bench. If the Wildcats defense can push around the Cardinals offense it will go along towards a win.

The 'Ville has 8 starters returning on offensive for new coach Charlie Strong. QB Adam Froman will pilot the offense. The senior had paltry passing numbers in 2009 and could be vulnerable to a freshman coup if he doesn't play well early on. The offensive line will be MUCH improved with all but a single starter returning. Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell could be a tough combination at RB. Powell has dropped 20 lbs since last year to be 215 lbs and coaches are impressed with him.

Just like the Wildcats need production from their running game, so do the Cardinals. The team who gets the most production in this area is very likely to win. What better way for Powell to show all that offseason work paid off then to run all over the rivaled Wildcats? It's easier said than done, but not impossible.

Defense is where the problems are for this Louisville Cardinals team. They have lost 6 of last years top 8 tacklers. Johnny Patrick had 53 tackles last year and he plays CB. It's a rough situation when your top returning tackler is in the secondary. He also had 2 INTs. All in all, the entire defense is very suspect and will almost assuredly have problems stopping Kentucky's running game.

This will be a home game for the Louisville Cardinals. Charlie Strong will have his boys ready to play a big game, but in the end they can't outplay their talent level. Two new coaches, but it looks like Kentucky's Joker Phillips inherits the better bunch here. Kentucky played good solid football a year ago against some pretty stiff SEC competition. Meanwhile, Louisville was spanked every time they stepped up in competition, against teams a tad below that of the level Kentucky was playing. You expect a good game when these two hook up, but we have to go with the more talented team here at a price where we are basically just asking them to win. Kentucky -3
 

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