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Bob Dixon

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Middlesboro, KY 40965

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Go Big Blue!

JOE COX: Plenty On Line for Wildcats Against Cardinals

Years ago, the Kentucky/Louisville game opened the season. Expectations for both teams—even with fairly modest teams—would be high, the respective fan bases would be excited, and nobody had to sell the UK/UofL rivalry.

The move to November changed the tone of the rivalry. For the first two seasons after the move, Kentucky entered the Louisville game with five wins, looking to qualify for a bowl, and failing both times. Then, in 2016, a UK team with six wins already upset a top 10 Louisville team and injected some new life to the series. U of L won the following year, but since then, it’s been all big blue. UK has won the last three games by a combined 153-44 count.


Now it’s Louisville who recently has limped into the game looking to salvage mediocre seasons, and instead got drop-kicked back down I-64 by Kentucky. But this season has yet another twist.


The Cardinals enter Saturday’s game at 7-4, and the Wildcats are 6-5. Kentucky is a three-point favorite, but it could certainly be argued that Louisville has had the better season.


After UK's 4-0 start, the Wildcat offense has limped home, barely edging its way to bowl eligibility. The Cardinals have defeated a pair of ranked teams in the last month and, with dual-threat QB Malik Cunningham hoping to play after missing last week, could be a tough out for the Wildcats.


Kentucky badly needs this game to salvage in-state bragging rights, but also to build some positive momentum heading into bowl season and recruiting season. Given the losses of Arkansas and Florida on Friday, the Wildcats could still reach a decent bowl destination with a seventh victory… or join the long list of 6-6 teams hunting for a landing place.


Given the uncertainty around the UK offense’s future, the Wildcats could use a positive message to impart on future recruits. Louisville currently has a much higher-ranked recruiting class than the Wildcats, and a Kentucky loss would likely do nothing to hurt the Cardinals’ situation, while doing nothing to help UK’s issues.


Kentucky has rushed the ball down Louisville’s throats in previous seasons. Given UofL’s impressive pass rush and Kentucky’s horrific pass protection, that might be the recipe the Wildcats try to follow one more time. In Chris Rodriguez’s final home game, the Wildcats would love to send him out with another big game on the ground.


While history is rarely on UK’s side in football matchups, the recent history is all Wildcats for this game. Look for UK to ride that, and an emotional performance from an excellent senior class to one more victory, 21-17.


Other SEC Predictions:

Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 10

Clemson 38, South Carolina 17

Alabama 45, Auburn 13

LSU 35, Texas A&M 10

Tennessee 45, Vanderbilt 17


Joe Cox is contributing editor for KySportsStyle.com Magazine. He grew up in Letcher County and Bell County and has written or co-written nine books. His most recent, "A Fine Team Man: Jackie Robinson and the Lives He Changed," was released in February 2019 and can be ordered on Amazon or at many local bookstores. Joe is an attorney and lives in Logan County with his wife and children. You can reach him at jrcox004@gmail.com.

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