LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - While Kentucky coach Rich Brooks can
empathize with Louisville's Steve Kragthrope, he wouldn't trade
places with his Cardinals counterpart.
The Wildcats are looking for their third straight win against
the Cardinals after Brooks started his Kentucky tenure with four
losses in a row to Louisville.
"It wasn't very much fun for me the first four years, but the
playing field has leveled for us, and now going in we realistically
have a shot at every game," said Brooks, who just 9-25 in his
first three years at Kentucky. "Now it's a matter of just trying
to build some momentum in the series."
The Wildcats are riding a high of three consecutive bowl wins -
a first for the program. Meanwhile Louisville needs a win Saturday
to get to .500 under Kragthorpe, who is 12-13 with the Cardinals.
Louisville's trip to the 2006 Orange Bowl seems to be a distant
"It's very important to me," Kragthorpe said. "I want to beat
Kentucky. Every game you go into you want to win, but I think a
game of this magnitude puts a little added flavor in it."
Both teams won their openers.
Louisville beat Indiana State 30-10 behind quarterback Justin
Burke - who starred at Lexington Catholic just a few miles from
Commonwealth Stadium. He finished 17 of 31 for 223 yards in his
first collegiate start.
Kentucky shutout Miami of Ohio 42-0 in its opener, justifying
Brooks' confidence in second-year starting quarterback Mike
Hartline and some of his new receiving threats. The defense also
played well, despite losing some key players, including defensive
end Jeremy Jarmon - forced to forgo his senior season after testing
positive for a banned substance.
Still, Brooks has stressed to his players that anything can
happen in a rivalry game. Those who were around two years ago for
Steve Johnson's dramatic touchdown late already know that.
"We realize the underdog usually is going to come in with a
chip on their shoulder, and that's exactly what they're going to
bring," Kentucky offensive tackle Zipp Duncan said. "We've had
the upper hand these last two years, but we know they're hungry for
a win and they're going to be gunning for us."
If the loss of Jarmon and a younger defense is vulnerable for
Kentucky, Louisville might expose it with Derrick Anderson - as
physical a running back as any the Wildcats will face in
Southeastern Conference play. Anderson ran for two TDs and 93 yards
in the opener.
Although the talent pendulum appears to have swung back to
Kentucky lately, there are numerous players on both rosters with
plenty to prove.
Kentucky linebacker Micah Johnson decided to stay for a senior
year rather than try his fortunes in the NFL. Not only are most of
his friends Louisville fans, but the Cardinals recruited him as a
tailback. Johnson picked Kentucky because he thought his chances
there were blocked by former Louisville star Michael Bush.
"It's always good to beat up on the teams that recruited you,"
Johnson said with a grin.
(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)