Louisville looks to end drought against UK


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Dismissed as a conference pretender in a preseason poll while adapting to a coaching change, Louisville is now trophy hunting.

The No. 9 Cardinals (10-1, No. 10 CFP ) claimed their first last week with the Schnellenberger Trophy after defeating Miami 38-31.

They now aim to reclaim the Governor’s Cup on Saturday against rival Kentucky after four consecutive losses, most of them lopsided, before chasing more hardware in their first appearance in next week’s Atlantic Coast Conference championship game against No. 5 Florida State.

The Governor’s Cup carries a lot of weight literally (110 pounds) and metaphorically for both teams — with Bluegrass bragging rights at stake.

That’s no small matter even in a basketball-crazed state, and especially for a Louisville program hungry to make this rivalry competitive again.

“They’re coming here wanting to win and put it to us and we’re going to have to respond,” said first-year Cardinals coach Jeff Brohm, a Louisville native and former program great. “Our team needs to understand that it’s going to take our best performance and a really good week of practice. We can’t think about anything else other than trying to win this game.”

The Cardinals are chasing 11 wins for the first time since 2012.

They achieved No. 10 by involving lesser-known players such as offensive lineman Trevonte Sylvester, tight end Nate Kurisky, receiver Kevin Coleman, and backup quarterback Evan Conley, who all came up with big touchdowns in a seesaw contest.

Louisville figures on using everybody including their stars this weekend to end the Wildcats’ recent dominance.

Kentucky (6-5) has won the past four meetings by a 176-57 margin, though last year’s 26-13 outcome in Lexington was the closest.

The Wildcats are bowl eligible for a school-record eighth consecutive season, but stumble in with five losses in six games.

That includes last week’s 17-14 loss at South Carolina in its Southeastern Conference season finale, where they overcame a 10-7 halftime deficit but allowed a fourth-quarter touchdown.

Though many phases have struggled since a 5-0 start, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops believes his team can rebound before preparing for its latest postseason destination.

Recent years have shown how a rivalry game has gotten players’ attention, and the hope this time is starting a roll while slowing Louisville’s.

“Nobody’s defeated in our facility, that’s for sure,” Stoops said. “Disappointed with that game, (and) that comes from investing so much. But, (we are) far from defeated and our team will show the resolve that we’ve always had, come back this week and try to put together a great week. The bottom line is, go execute a little better than we did.”


Louisville and Kentucky each feature running backs who have broken multiple chunk plays.

The Cardinals currently have a strong duo in Jawhar Jordan — who has been limited by hamstring injury but has 1,009 yards rushing — and Isaac Guerendo, a Wisconsin transfer who has rushed for five touchdowns and 333 yards the past three games.

The Wildcats counter with Ray Davis, who is just 10 yards rushing away from his second consecutive 1,000-yard season — and leads the SEC with 17 total TDs (12 rushing).


Brohm reiterated his faith in kicker Brock Travelstead — despite a missed 24-yard, chip-shot field goal and an extra point at Miami.

The coach eventually subbed Travelstead with Nick Lopez, who made a 40-yard field goal and converted the point after on the game-winning TD.

Brohm said Travelstead needs to rebuild his confidence and not overthink kicks.

“At the same time, you’ve gotta be able to block things out and just cut it loose. That’s why it’s important to have depth at each position and good competition.”


Kurisky and fellow tight end Joey Gatewood, a former Auburn and Kentucky QB, each had at least 50 yards receiving — while combining for eight catches last week.

In fact, 12 Louisville receivers caught at least one pass from Jack Plummer, who completed 24 of 37 attempts for 308 yards and three scores, including the 58-yard game-winner to Kevin Coleman.


Kentucky sophomore Deone Walker has made his presence felt all over the defensive line, and established himself as its most impactful defender.

He leads the Wildcats with 10.5 tackles for loss and seven QB hurries, and is tied for the team lead with 5.5 sacks.

That includes two for loss and a sack among nine stops last week against the Gamecocks.


Once numerous players from the winning side are done taking selfies with the Governor’s Cup, expect two to eventually carry it to its next display home.

The 110-pound Cup stands 33 inches high and is comprised of black marble, optic-grade crystal and 23-karat gold-plated brass and pewter.

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