Who is going to win Sunday’s Kentucky-Louisville game? That’s the question that was posed to various statewide media members to see what the consensus might be.
Of the eight media members polled, only three — Ryan Lemond, Tom Leach and Ashley Scoby — picked Kentucky to win. Larry Glover, Hal Morris and Keith Taylor expect decisive Louisville wins. Mary Jo Perino and Mark Buerger went with Louisville but don’t feel a Kentucky win would be impossible.
Mary Jo Perino, WLEX-TV: “Louisville. Even with Max Smith as the starter, I still think I give the advantage to Teddy Bridgewater and his receivers. Both teams will have very different mindsets, UK will be trying to prove everybody wrong and Louisville will try to prove everybody right. I think in that opening game in Louisville, I think the Cardinals will be flexing their muscles just a little bit more.”
Mark Buerger, WLAP-AM “Sunday Morning Sports Talk”: “As much as I hate to say it, I think Louisville wins, but I don’t think it will be the laugher that some people are predicting. I think Kentucky keeps it close (and could win), and I hope that’s enough to get fans into Commonwealth (Stadium) the next Saturday.”
Ryan Lemond, Kentucky Sports Report: “I’m one of those guys who is starting to believe that Kentucky can ‘pull this game out.’ The closer and closer we get to kickoff, the more I’m finding myself believing Kentucky can do it.
“I just think UofL is way overrated right now. They lost to Marshall and Florida International at home last year and barely beat a struggling UK team. Their record will be good this year because they play in a super weak conference. UK would have a great record in that conference.
"I just think the build-up and the hype may lead to UofL being way too overconfident. I’m sure (coach) Joker (Phillips) is using that idea to his advantage and is telling his players, ‘Nobody thinks you guys can win this game. Nobody is giving you guys a chance.’”
“Kentucky comes in with a ‘chip on their shoulder,’ and pulls out a close one 17-14.”
Keith Taylor, Winchester Sun: I believe Louisville has the nod in this one, simply because the Cardinals are playing at home and because Louisville enters the contest with high expectations. At the same time, Kentucky has nothing to lose and everything to gain. However, the unknown factor could hurt the Cats in this one.
“The Cardinals have experience, a veteran quarterback, but trails in the series 6-3 when the games are played in Louisville. Louisville yanked out a 24-17 win in Lexington last year, and I think the Cards will do the same this time, but with more spacing in the final margin. Louisville 34, Kentucky 17.”
Tom Leach, UK radio network: “I understand why Louisville is favored, but I'll be optimistic and pick the Cats. And I base it on more than just hope. In horse racing terms, the Cards are the one with the better past performance page. But sometimes, a trainer can see his horse training in such a way that he is confident it will outrun its record the next time out.
“There is a much more positive vibe around this Kentucky team — and I see the potential for many more playmakers than last season —so I think the Wildcats can be better than they look on paper. There's no way to be certain if that will be good enough to get the win over UofL, but I will be surprised if the outcome has been decided by the time the fourth quarter rolls around.”
Ashley Scoby, vaughtsviews.com: “I may be in the minority here, but I think UK will pull this one out. The players have maintained a lot of poise when it came to Twitter and trash talk. That leads me to believe that they're focusing on football and nothing but.
“With Max Smith being named the starting quarterback, I have a lot more confidence with how the offense will perform. Smith is an experienced quarterback in the SEC, and Louisville isn't even SEC. The Cats' defense may be young, but this freshman class is incredibly athletic. If the coaching staff has effectively instilled some fundamentals in them as well, the freshmen-slash-young guys can really contribute. I also feel like Louisville has a lot of confidence, without having really proven anything yet.
“I'm sure the Cards will be a good team this year, but how good? They were ranked when the Cats unexpectedly beat them in 2007, so this year might be the perfect storm for UK. What could really hurt the Cats' chances is the fact that the game is at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium — a big factor in this game will be how many UK fans decide to show up in Louisville.
“Whatever the outcome, I don't think it's going to be the absolute blowout of UK that everyone seems to expect. The young Cats have a lot to prove, and the Louisville game is the first step in that journey.”
Larry Glover, “Larry Glover Live”: “I think Louisville wins this one. Make it 31-18 UofL. I believe Cardinals are a little better, and being at home should give them an added punch. That said, I don't think UofL is a great team by any stretch of the imagination and won't be shocked if UK wins this one. Remember, underdogs have done well in this series."
Hal Morris, The Advocate-Messenger: “Louisville will win simply because Louisville is better at just about every position. They have a talented, experienced quarterback in Teddy Bridgewater, can go four-deep at running back, have a big fast defense and have explosive receivers, even with the loss of Michaelee Harris. Louisville is still young, but the Cards have played a lot of young kids the last two years, so they are experienced.
“The key matchup will be if UK’s inexperienced offensive line can hold up against the Cardinals’ deep defensive line and give Max Smith time to throw and open up holes for the backs. Having Josh Clemons in the backfield would help, but Kentucky may have to rely on its two true freshmen (Justin Taylor, Dyshawn Mobley) a lot, and that will be too much to ask.
“If the game gets into a kicking contest, give the edge to UK, but it should not come down to that. Optimism may be high among the Wildcats, but everyone is optimistic in the preseason. Prediction: Louisville 31, Kentucky 14.”