LOUISVILLE (WAVE) – Heading into the last third of the college football regular season, the climactic Governor’s Cup game between Louisville and Kentucky surely looks different than it did back in July, when UK quarterback Terry Wilson was healthy and nobody knew what to expect from first-year UofL coach Scott Satterfield.
Back then, there was little reason to believe the Nov. 30 game in Commonwealth Stadium wouldn’t be much different from last season’s game in Cardinal Stadium, which the Cardinals lost, 56-10, to bring their worst season ever to a dismal end.
But now, it says here, both teams will go into the game with a 7-4 record. For UK, which lost Wilson in the first game and had no backup ready, this is about as good as could be expected. But for UofL, which allowed seven of its foes score at least 50 points last year, it’s a downright miracle.
At the moment, UofL is 5-3, UK 4-4, and both will have challenging games this Saturday, the Cardinals playing Miami on the road and the Cats entertaining Tennessee at the Grocery Store (Kroger Field).
The Cards certainly are capable of at the 4-5 Hurricanes, who may have to play without star tight end Brevin Jordan. However, redshirt freshman quarterback Jarren Williams has led the Hurricanes to two consecutive victories and inspired the team to play with confidence. The pick here is Miami in a close one, putting U of L at 5-4.
In Lexington, the Cats will face a Tennessee team that has improved dramatically since an abysmal start. The Vols have back-to-back wins over South Carolina (41-21), the only team to beat Georgia, and Alabama-Birmingham (30-7). The Vols now have a 4-5 record and a shot at bowl eligibility.
But even if UK can stop Tennessee’s passing tandem of quarterback Jarrett Guarantano and wideout Marquez Callaway, the Cats will live or die by quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr., the erstwhile wide receiver who now plays quarterback. He leads the team in passing, running, and catching. I think the Wildcats pull out a close one to improve their record to 5-4, same as UofL.
On Nov. 16, both teams are on the road, the Cards traveling to NC State and the Cats to Vanderbilt. Each could stumble if not ready to play, but I don’t see it happening. So give each a win and a 6-4 record.
Both will be favored in the Nov. 23 games, the Cards against hapless Syracuse (currently 3-5) in Cardinal Stadium and the Cats against Tennessee-Martin (5-3, leader in OVC at the Kroger.
So there you have it: 7-4 for each team. Both also seem destined to play in a bowl game, and some rewards could be in store for their coaches. For Satterfield, it could be ACC Coach of the Year, with some support for the national honor. For UK’s Mark Stoops, it could be the head job at Florida State, which has fired Willie Taggert after only a season and a half. Stoops was the Seminoles’ defensive coordinator before taking the UK job.
It’s too far out to pick the Governor’s Bowl winner. Each team Is fragile and can take nothing for granted. All we know for sure is that UK will have the homefield advantage and that Matt Bevin will be presenting the trophy for the last time. But it’s reasonable to expect a much, much closer game than most of us did in July, and that’s no small thing for two programs still trying to reach the top of the mountain.