2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 3 - Louisville at Kentucky
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Sept. 17 Louisville 24 ... at Kentucky 17
CFN Analysis: COMING
(AP) LEXINGTON, Ky. -- Teddy Bridgewater threw two touchdown passes as Louisville held off Kentucky in a 24-17 victory on Saturday night that ended a four-game losing skid to its in-state rival.
Bridgewater connected with Josh Bellamy on a 25-yard touchdown to give Louisville (2-1) a 24-10 lead with 11:15 left in the game.
Kentucky (2-1) answered with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Morgan Newton to E.J. Fields with 4:56 left to cut the margin to 24-17.
Louisville went three-and-out on the next drive, but Newton's shot to La'Rod King on fourth-and-6 at the Louisville 18 sailed out of bounds.
Louisville coach Charlie Strong had said earlier in the week that his team lacked the confidence needed to be a good team and that the Cardinals had been overshadowed by Kentucky's accomplishments in the past few years.
His team got its shot of confidence from a true freshman as Bridgewater took over early in the second quarter after Will Stein left the field with a shoulder injury and finished 10-of-18 for 106 yards.
Most of his early plays were handoffs to Victor Anderson and Jeremy Wright or as direct snaps to Dominique Brown, but he found his rhythm in the air after competing four passes to four different receivers on the Cardinals' last drive of the first half, the final pass a 25-yard toss to another true freshman, DeVante Parker, to give the Cardinals a 14-3 lead with 1:16 before halftime.
Kentucky had struggled offensively ever since Craig McIntosh kicked a 20-yard field goal on the opening drive, but the Wildcats came to life with their hurry-up offense. Newton capped an 80-yard drive with a 15-yard touchdown pass to King with 10 seconds left before halftime to cut Louisville's lead to 14-10.
Newton was 27 for 41 for 255 yards, and King caught seven passes for 84 yards, but Kentucky couldn't match Louisville on the ground. The Cardinals outgained the Wildcats on the ground 181 yards to 35, led by Brown's 91 yards on 14 carries.
Kentucky had the momentum early in the game. The Cardinals followed McIntosh's early field goal by going three and out twice in a row.
Stein managed to inject some energy before leaving the game when he found Andrell Smith at the corner of the end zone on a 38-yard scoring strike to give Louisville a 7-3 lead with 2:53 to go in the first quarter. He left the game on the first play of the Cardinals' next drive.
Louisville (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0) Sept. 17, 7:00, ESPNU
Here's The Deal … In a strange quirk, thanks to egos, pride, and a fierce posturing, these two didn't play from 1924 until 1993, and since renewing the battle, it's been a rivalry of runs. Louisville got hot in the 2000s, but with the decline in Cardinal football came a fall to UK, with the Wildcats winning four straight with three of the games decided by a touchdown or less.
This year it would just be nice if the two could score.
Louisville has had a rocky run, and while Charlie Strong is doing his part to make the program a player again, this is a rebuilding year and it shows with a nationally televised struggle against Murray State followed up by a home loss to FIU. UofL isn't supposed to lose at home to a Sun Belt team, but as bad as last week's loss might have been, all can be right with the world by breaking the streak against the Cats.
UK might be 2-0, but it's a very, very shaky 2-0, struggling to score against Western Kentucky and getting pushed hard by Central Michigan. With Florida, at LSU, and at South Carolina coming up, banking a win is a must to keep the bowl hopes in the picture, and for Joker Phillips, staying ahead in the rivalry race means everything to in-state recruiting.
The teams might be lousy, but they're at an equal level of lousy. It's not going to be New Orleans vs. Green Bay when it comes to the level of play, but this should be a tight, hard fought battle for four quarters.
Why Louisville Might Win: The Kentucky passing game isn't just lousy, it's at a whole other level of lousy. WKU and Central Michigan didn't suddenly bring in Darrelle Revis, but the Wildcats couldn't do anything through the air and couldn't keep the chains moving. Part of the reason is an O line that's severely underachieving so far, and part of the problem is quarterback Morgan Newton, who has all the tools and all the talent, but can't seems to try to miss open receivers. UK is 113th in the nation in passing efficiency and 115th in passing offense, coming up with just 211 yards so far. If the Cardinals can generate any sort of a pass rush, the UK attack will go into the tank.
Why Kentucky Might Win: The Kentucky offensive line might be having problems, but the Louisville offensive front is really having issues, allowing seven sacks in two games and getting the quarterbacks blasted. The passing game, though, has been fine compared to UK's issues, but there's been a big problem with mistakes. The offense only turned it over twice against FIU, but there were just enough breakdowns defensively to allow T.Y. Hilton to go off for 201 receiving yards, including an 83-yard score, while the line allowed six sacks. Against Murray State, ten penalties and four turnovers allowed the Racers to make it a game. The entire team is getting its feet wet, and while the future looks bright after a few nice recruiting classes, there's a lot of jelling to do.
What To Watch Out For: What's up with Morgan Newton? Indiana's Mr. Football in 2008 has the 6-4, 235-pound size and excellent skills with a live arm and good mobility, but he's struggling way too much to get the offense going. There's no problem throwing the deep ball, but there's a big issue actually connecting on any of the big plays, completing just 16-of-36 passes so far for 211 yards and two touchdowns with four picks. He's running relatively well, and he's trying, but he's also pressing too much and isn't making the simple throws that are there for the taking. He needs help from a line that's not protecting him, and it would be great if he got something out of a running game that's not producing enough.
Passing production hasn't been a problem for the Cardinals, with junior Will Stein coming off a 349-yard, two touchdown day against FIU. Everyone's waiting to see more of super-recruit Teddy Bridgewater, and he's being folded into the mix, but Stein has been too good to take off the field. The walk-on doesn't fit the prototype, but the staff likes his leadership skills and competitiveness, and believes he has enough zip on his passes to get the job done.
What Will Happen: The Wildcats aren't getting anything out of their offense, but the defense has been terrific and the punting game has been among the best in the country. UK will do all the little things right to overcome another rough day from the passing game, but it'll take a late stand to pull out the fifth win in a row in the rivalry.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 23 … Louisville 17
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Kentucky -6 O/U: 41
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