Cats hope to stretch winning at Louisville to three


Les Nicholson

Kentucky receiver Wan’Dale Robinson dived for the end zone at the end of a long play earlier this season. He had stepped out of bounds around the 6-yard line.

By Keith Taylor, Kentucky Today

LEXINGTON (KT) — Kentucky has been successful in its last two trips to Louisville and will look to continue the string of victories Saturday night.

The Wildcats defeated the Cardinals soundly 56-10 in 2018 and surprised the hosts with a thrilling 41-38 win in 2016 that ended a five-game losing streak. Kentucky has won two straight in the series after Louisville captured five straight victories from 2011-15.

In the last contest in 2019, Lynn Bowden rushed for 284 yards and four touchdowns in a dominating 45-14 victory at Kroger Field. This time, Louisville has a dual-threat quarterback in Malik Cunningham. He was named the ACC Quarterback of the Week after throwing for 303 yards and five touchdowns, while rushing for 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns in a 62-22 win over Duke last Thursday.

“Malik, he is a dynamic playmaker,” UK coach Mark Stoops said. “A guy that can hurt you with his legs and his arm. You can see, he’s getting more and more comfortable with each game and each opportunity.”

Overall, Cunningham has rushed for 933 yards and 18 touchdowns, while throwing for 2,589 yards and 18 scores this season.

“He’s a special talent,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White said Tuesday. “There’s been a pretty marked jump since the last time we saw him. There’s a confidence level that he’s playing with all season. Arguably the most talented offensive weapon we’ve seen all season. To say it’s a huge challenge is a bit of an understatement.”

Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen will be facing the Cardinals for the first time and noticed a difference in his team’s preparation on Tuesday.

“I just felt a different vibe from these guys today,” Coen said. “We were 60 yards down the field, blocking for running backs and wideouts, we hadn’t really had that in practice. You just felt the energy amplified. I’ve gotten a sense that these guys are going to be ready to play.”

The Cardinals carry a two-game winning streak into the contest and will be looking to solidify their bowl status in the final regular-season game for both squads. Stoops said the Cardinals are a much better team that the once the Cats faced two years ago.

“They’re just more physical,” he said. “They’re better, more comfortable in their system and you could understand that, and they’ve done a very good job. They’re very well coached and they are very active up front and doing some good things.”

Like always, Stoops said the game is important, because it’s “the next game.”

“That’s the way you have to approach it,” he said. “If you don’t … I can’t sit there and preach to my team about respecting the game if I don’t. So, believe me, in this business you have the chance to be humbled every seven days and you take every opportunity and every day to prepare yourself for Saturday and that’s what we’re going to do.”

Gametracker: Kentucky at Louisville, 7:30 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: ESPN2, UK Radio Network.