Now that Mark Stoops and Neal Brown have found the right starting quarterback in Maxwell Smith and tweaked the in-game rotation of both Smith and Jalen Whitlow, the Air Raid offense appears to be settling into a more consistent scoring machine.
Let’s march forward to the next game on the schedule, which of course is the annual Battle of the Bluegrass this coming Saturday which this year is in the friendly confines of Commonwealth Stadium with kickoff set for noon on ESPN.
The battle features the No. 7 ranked Louisville Cardinals (2-0), led by their Heisman Trophy candidate Teddy Bridgewater, against the hometown bluebloods of Mark Stoops, who are coming off their first win of the 2013 season, a 41-7 thrashing of Miami of Ohio.
Bridgewater is off to a very smooth start in his first two games, completing 76.7 percent of his passes, going 46 of 60 for 762 yards, nine TD’s and only one interception in wins against Ohio University, 49-7, and the Cards own in-state little sister EKU, 44-7. Those are pretty impressive stats. But hold on, the two-headed monster of Smith and Whitlow is off to a similar start completing 43 of 63 passes through the air for 616 yards with four touchdowns and zero interceptions.
The fly in the ointment here is that neither team has faced an opponent yet as good as what they’re facing this Saturday. Which begs the question: How good will each team be and what will each team’s record be come Thanksgiving Day?
Obviously each program has vastly different goals for this year. Louisville is finally on that collision course, or so they say in the Falls City, with a BCS championship that Howard Schnellenberger predicted back, well, several decades ago. UK, on the other hand, is in the early stages of another new rebuilding project with a fresh new coaching regime and money flowing freely once again from the state capital to upgrade their pigskin facilities to at least mid-level SEC standards.
With its much maligned paltry schedule Louisville can’t flinch. Every game must be impressively won to hold serve and make it through to late November. The Cards will still need much help from others across college football to narrow down the options for the BCS Committee, which is in its swan song season before the new NCAA football playoff format kicks in. A UK upset and you can throw all that out the window and the Cards may as well start preparations for their entrance into the ACC.
Simply put, UK is in the proverbial cat bird’s seat. The Wildcats have everything to gain and nothing to lose, while Louisville must hit on all cylinders just about every series come Saturday.
Kind of ironic isn’t it? That’s how this series started 20 years ago except that day Louisville had everything to gain and nothing to lose.
Many pigskin prognosticators across college football feel it’s simply Louisville Coach Charlie Strong’s decision as to how bad the Cardinals want the beat-down to be. But if you’ll track the last 19 years, you’ll find the underdog has won the game more than the favorite has.
This is a rivalry game folks, the only true rivalry game either team has. And this game, like all others, isn’t played on paper.
Louisville better score early and often. If this game is still undecided when the ball is teed up for the second half it could be one of the best games of the series to date with the scoring potential each team has shown in its first two games.