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Racing to the Finish: Louisville and Kentucky Football

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Racing to the Finish: Louisville and Kentucky Football

Tyler Mozingo, Sports Editor

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How the tables have turned.

Louisville and Kentucky usually have the same results in football every year, but it is just the opposite this season.

The universities of Kentucky and Louisville have both started their football seasons for 2018, and what has transpired so far is not what everyone was expecting. In fact, things are happening in reverse order. Kentucky and Louisville will face off later in the year, in Louisville, on November 24 for the annual Governors Cup Trophy.

The Louisville Cardinals football team has been known for around the last six to seven years for a very good football team and are competitive in every game. The case this year is not the same. The Cardinals are currently sitting with a 2-2 record, and many experts are calling them the worst team in the ACC (Atlantic Coast Conference). They opened up the season against the nations best team, the number one ranked Alabama Crimson Tide. That game was an absolute onslaught as the Cardinals fell to the Tide 51-14. It was the new Cardinals’ quarterback, redshirt sophomore Jawon “Puma” Pass’, first collegiate start. It was a clear downgrade at that position for the Cardinals from their Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Lamar Jackson, as he left for the NFL after last season.

The Cardinals responded with a 31-7 win over the Indiana State Sycamores. That game was very hard to tell what the real Louisville football team would be like because that was the rainiest game that Louisville has been a part of in its history. It rained 3.84 inches just during the game. The next week brought an in-state game between Louisville and the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. The Cardinals snuck out with a 20-17 win after trailing the entire game until midway in the fourth quarter.

Louisville went back on the road for their ACC opener with the Virginia Cavaliers. The Cardinals swapped quarterbacks as they put in redshirt freshman Malik Cunningham to lead the charge. “Lead” probably isn’t the best word to use as Cunningham got the Cardinals just 88 total yards in the first half. Head Coach Bobby Petrino made a change in the second half and went back to Jawon Pass. Pass didn’t do a whole lot more as the Cardinals fell 27-3 to the Cavaliers. The Cardinals have to turn things around quickly as the Florida State Seminoles come to town next week. “We are struggling so bad right now that it is frustrating to watch. It’s so hard because we have been so good in the past few years to turn to watch this, it’s tough,” said junior Trent Murphy.

On the other hand, the Kentucky Wildcats football team is off to an extraordinary start. The Wildcats in recent years have not been known to be a very good football team, as they have had a few last place finishes in the SEC (Southeastern Conference). Kentucky is off to a 4-0 start and defeated two of the top 25 teams in the country. The Wildcats opened the season and struggled a little bit against the Central Michigan Chippewas. They did win 35-20, but they trailed for most of the first half.

Kentucky had arguably the biggest win in the last decade in week two, as they defeated the #25 ranked Florida Gators, in Gainesville. They beat the Gators 27-16, marking the first win over Florida in 31 years. To put things in perspective, the last time Kentucky beat Florida, Ronald Reagan was the president. They got up on Florida early, but gave the lead back up and trailed 10-7 at halftime. The Wildcats regrouped and jumped out to a 21-10 lead after the break and kept pushing and walked out with a huge, program boosting win.

The Wildcats rode that high into week three and beat the Murray State Racers in convincing fashion, 48-10. Kentucky led from start to finish in that contest. The Wildcats had to come off of that win and prepare for the #14 ranked team in the country coming to town, the Mississippi State Bulldogs. Kentucky went down 7-0 early, but stepped on the gas and never slowed down after as they defeated the Bulldogs 28-7. Nobody gave the Wildcats a chance, and they silenced all doubters. After two top 25 wins, Kentucky is sitting pretty to be ranked in the top 25 this week as they get ready for South Carolina.

The reason that the “tables have turned” is that Louisville is usually the predominant team compared to Kentucky. What usually happens is when Kentucky starts to struggle mightily, Wildcat fans tend to jump ship and start talking about basketball and the great recruiting classes that John Calipari brings in for basketball. Right now, Kentucky fans are riding high with their football team and not talking about basketball. It is the opposite this season for Cardinal fans. They are usually always talking about football and only focusing on that because they are usually succeeding, but that is not the case this year. Cardinal fans are starting to jump ship after an unusual 2-2 start and talk about basketball season and how new basketball coach Chris Mack is on fire with his first official recruiting class coming in for the 2019 basketball season.

Kentucky is looking to continue their great start to the season and potentially challenge Georgia for the SEC East and go to Atlanta for the SEC Championship. Louisville, on the other hand, is looking to completely flip the season around and get some of their fans that have already jumped ship, back on board and finish the season on a high note and challenge Clemson in the ACC Atlantic and win a bowl game. My prediction for the Governors Cup Trophy on November 24 will be Kentucky going into Louisville and walking away with a win. Based off of how this season has gone for both teams, Kentucky is on cloud nine and Louisville is down in the dumps. I have a hard time believing Kentucky will tank that bad and Louisville will improve that much by then to flip my pick. I have Kentucky winning 28-17.

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Racing to the Finish: Louisville and Kentucky Football