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Old 09-05-2004, 04:23 AM   #1
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Default Kentucky +10 over LOUISVILLE

Kentucky +10 over LOUISVILLE

It’s the annual Labor Day weekend war in the Blue Grass State, as the Louisville Cardinals host the Kentucky Wildcats. The ‘Cats 4-8 finish last year was a major disappointment as they had been determined to make it to a bowl game. The squad actually entered the campaign with hopes of contending for the SEC title, but losses in four of the first six contests crushed those aspirations. The slide started with the season opening loss to Louisville. There were many questions for the Cards heading into last season, but they were mostly answered positively with the team's 9-4 overall mark. The team did an outstanding job in Bobby Petrino's first year at the helm, including a GMAC Bowl appearance against Miami-Ohio, and with a wealth of experience back in place, they are the ones talking big now, looking to post double figures in the win column.

The “hefty lefty” Jared Lorenzen entered last season as the much talked about quarterback of Kentucky, and Shane Boyd played only sparingly. Now a senior, the little-used Boyd is ready to show off his talents. The Kentucky defense features a true star in DE Vincent "Sweet Pea" Burns, who has a great motor and should command two blockers on many occasions Sunday. He will get plenty of help from his teammates, as nine of the 11 starters from last year are back in place.

Stefan LeFors threw for more than 3,000 yards last season for a Louisville team that ranked 15th nationally in scoring. As a team, the Cardinals racked up an impressive 228 rushing ypg in 2003 with a trio of talented tailbacks - Lionel Gates, Eric Shelton and Michael Bush. They all return to the fold this season, giving Louisville the most dangerous backfield in C-USA. While the offense was explosive a year ago, the defensive unit allowed 28 ppg and ranked 93rd in total defense. Eight starters are back, and the hope is that experience will improve those figures.

This has been an underdog-revenger series recently, and it could happen once again. The Cardinals might not be an SEC power, but Kentucky fans have had enough of having to answer to their in-state rivals. "I've lived with a year of hearing about it, how we got our fannies kicked," UK coach Rich Brooks said, adding, "Obviously this is a very important football game and nobody has to nudge me and tell me that." Last year's game seemed to set the tone for both teams, and the Cats haven’t forgotten. "In a staff's first year, the outcome of that game I think set a lot of good things in motion for the team that won it, and set some things that were not good in motion for the team that lost it," Brooks said. "We struggled because of that. Some of our struggles may not have been there had we been able to win." That makes this season's opener even more important for Kentucky. Forget bragging rights. The Wildcats need to open the season with some confidence, and it's hard to beat beating your in-state rival for a much-needed boost.

Meanwhile, Louisville could well be falling into the trap of reading too many positive press clippings in the offseason. Everyone has been patting them on the back, telling them how good they are, and are going to beat Kentucky and win the conference title. Last time that happened, these same Wildcats devoured the Cardinals in the season opener 2 years ago, and Louisville underachieved most of the season. The team has also had the unnecessary distraction of a QB controversy. Despite the fantastic season LeFors enjoyed last year, Petrino put his job up for grabs, allowing a true freshman a shot at grabbing the starting position. For now, the starter is LeFors, but expect to see peach fuzz-faced Brian Brohm in this game at some point. It certainly could not have done anything for LeFors confidence, and now he will have to play while looking over his shoulder. At times it almost seemed as if the fans and coaches wanted Brohm to take the job from LeFors. How’s that for appreciation? Brohm remains close behind, probably too close for LeFors to feel too comfortable. After all, Petrino and his staff inherited LeFors from former coach John L. Smith, but it was Brohm they wanted all along. Don’t be surprised to see LeFors make some mistakes as he puts too much pressure on himself. Also, don’t be surprised to see Kentucky at least keep this one close, losing by less than a TD if they fail to pull off the outright upset.
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Old 09-06-2004, 11:04 PM   #2
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C'mon, I was expecting people to be snickering and making fun of my beloved Wildcats by now. But we're so pathetic that people aren't. We're so pathetic that Louisville took a knee at the end not to embarrass us further. It was out of pity, and that makes us even more pitful. We couldn't run, pass, block, or play defense well enough. Our highlight of the game was a goal line stand on defense. We flat-out suck!
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Old 09-06-2004, 11:30 PM   #3
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How long will Brooks hang around there, Marc? They looked miserable in what little of the game I saw...

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Old 09-06-2004, 11:31 PM   #4
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People are calling for the heads of everyone. Who knows. Get this: UK fans are really pushing to get Spurrier!
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