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Undefeated Rivals Kentucky and Louisville Find Success on Saturdays

They play for the Governor's Cup in the final game of the season and have played every year since 1994. One of the most intense rivalries in college football takes place in the great State of Kentucky between the Kentucky Wildcats and the Louisville Cardinals and the Wildcats own a 19-15 record in the series. And in 2023, these hated rivals have found success on Saturdays as both have identical 5-0 records.

Kentucky Football-A Sea of Blue

The #20 Kentucky Wildcats (2-0 in the SEC East), under head coach Mark Stoops, play a tough, hard-nosed brand of football. UK’s main strength is its defense. The Wildcats are nationally ranked in the Top 30 in the following defensive categories:

· #19 in Total Defense, allowing 297 yards/game.

· #10 in Rushing Defense, allowing 75 yards/game.

· #20 in Scoring Defense, allowing 15 points/game.

· #25 in Sacks with 14.

Kentucky has not allowed 100+ yards rushing yet this season and allowed only four rushing touchdowns so far this season. And, they allow a minuscule 2.5 yards per carry.

But the Wildcats have found another weapon in their gridiron arsenal in the form of running back Ray Davis. Davis was superhuman last Saturday vs. the Florida Gators, a team that had allowed opponents just 82 yards rushing per game and 2.8 yards per carry coming into the UK game. His superpower was shredding opposing defenses.

Davis rushed for 206 yards…in the first half!! Included in that total was a 75-yard run that turned the Florida defense into an alligator-skinned handbag and a pair of shoes.

Davis finished the day with 280 yards and four total touchdowns (3 rushing, 1 receiving). Being the consummate teammate, he cast the spotlight and praise on his offensive line for his performance. He currently ranks fourth in the FBS in rushing, averaging 118 yards per game on the ground.

Ironically, Davis is a transfer from Vanderbilt. While with the Commodores, Davis rushed for 129 yards and a touchdown in a win over Kentucky that ended a conference losing streak that had lasted 26 games.

Davis has scored 11 total touchdowns this season, including three receiving touchdowns. Against Akron, he caught a screen pass from QB Devin Leary, who was under an intense pass rush. Davis was near the right sideline, ran through would-be tacklers across the field to the left sideline, and left scorched earth behind him on a 58-yard touchdown reception.

For the season, Davis has rushed for 594 yards, eight touchdowns, and averages over seven yards per carry. He has emerged as a valuable weapon for the Wildcat offense.

Louisville Football-Winning is in the Cards

78 miles to the West on I-64, the #25 Louisville Cardinals have found similar success (3-0 in ACC play). In December of last year, the prodigal son returned to coach his alma mater, Jeff Brohm. Brohm, a former Louisville quarterback, had been a successful head coach at Western Kentucky and Purdue. He now has the Cardinals playing far above their station than many of the so-called experts thought during the preseason.

The ‘Ville employs a potent offense that averages 37 points per game and averages over 7 yards per play. They have scored over 50 points twice this season and rank in the Top 30 in the following offensive categories:

· #11 in Total Offense @ 494 yards/game.

· #16 in Passing Offense @ 301 yards/game (leads the ACC).

· #21 in Scoring Offense @ 37 points/game.

· #30 in Rushing Offense @ 193 yards/game.

The Cardinals are led by RB Ray Davis (510 yards, 6 TDs, 7.73 avg.) and WR Jamari Thrash (22 catches, 444 yards, 5 TDs, 20-yard avg.).

Can Kentucky and Louisville Find Success This Saturday?

On Saturday, the Cats and Cards face off against two top-ranked teams #1 Georgia and #10 Notre Dame, respectively.

Kentucky has beaten Georgia only twice since 2006. But as they travel to take on the Bulldogs between the hedges, the Wildcats have the defense and the rushing attack to beat Georgia. But they will have to do three things: put relentless pressure on QB Carson Beck and do what they do, which is stop the run.

In addition, they need to take TE Brock Bowers out of the equation and make him a non-factor. If they can do that, then there will be a NEW #1 team come Sunday.

Louisville will host the #10 Fighting Irish on Saturday. These two have only played each other three times, with Notre Dame holding a 2-1 series record. This game will showcase strength vs. strength: the Louisville passing offense vs. the Notre Dame pass defense, which ranks #4 in the FBS. Notre Dame allows just 146 yards passing per game.

Notre Dame QB Sam Hartman will have to deal with the certainty that Louisville DL Ashton Gillotte will be in his facemask early and often. Gillotte has racked up 18 tackles, 5 sacks, 5 tackles for loss, and a forced fumble through five games. Could this potentially be another close game for the Fighting Irish (their third in three weeks)? Notre Dame has the better quarterback, but we shall see.

College football fans, enjoy your football Saturday.


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