Kentucky or Louisville? State, national media make their Governor’s Cup picks.

·10 min read

The annual battle for the Governor’s Cup will take place under the lights Saturday at Cardinal Stadium in Louisville.

With two years to dwell on the series’ latest result, and seeking its first win in the rivalry since 2017, Louisville will be highly motivated to tilt the tide in its favor. Kentucky, though, brings a rejuvenated offense to the table that’ll look to put a hurtin’ on the Cardinals.

More than 40 media members, local and national, submitted their predictions for the game to the Herald-Leader. Here’s what they had to say.

Kentucky-Louisville picks

John Clay, Lexington Herald-Leader: Kentucky 45, Louisville 42. In this Saturday night shootout under the lights, he who has the ball last wins.

Fred Cowgill, WLKY: Louisville 28, Kentucky 21. The Cards are much better than their record indicates. On paper it’s the Cards’ offense against the Cats’ defense. Should be very entertaining.

Chuck Culpepper, Washington Post: Kentucky 27, Louisville 26. Louisville averages 1.3 points more than Kentucky, while Kentucky allows 2.5 points fewer than Louisville, so Kentucky will win by approximately 1.2.

Maggie Davis, BBN Tonight: Kentucky 45, Louisville 42. There’s no easy way to slow Malik Cunningham down, especially considering how Kentucky’s defense has struggled in the latter half of the year. However, UK’s offense has shown it can present a more balanced attack this season. Look for big games from Kentucky’s usuals — Will Levis, Wan’Dale Robinson and Chris Rodriguez — but don’t overlook tight end Izayah Cummings. Someone always steps up in a rivalry game, and the Male High School alumn is my pick this year.

Lonny Demaree, Kentucky Sports Report: Kentucky 27, Louisville 24. It could go either way. Everybody says it’s gonna be a high-scoring game. I don’t think so.

Jody Demling, Cardinal Authority/247Sports: Louisville 34, Kentucky 31. The Cards take advantage of a couple of turnovers and get a late field goal to win it.

Evan Dennison, The Ledger Independent: Kentucky 30, Louisville 27. Blowout wins over Syracuse and Duke have somehow made Louisville a favorite. Give me the team with the better players outside of the quarterback position.

Cameron Drummond, Lexington Herald-Leader: Louisville 35, Kentucky 24. Dual-threat U of L quarterback Malik Cunningham continues his late-season surge against a UK defense wilting at the wrong time, and Kentucky loses the turnover battle again against a team that can make the Cats pay for it.

Jeff Drummond, Cats Illustrated/Rivals: Kentucky 34, Louisville 26. I think the Cats have the better overall team in this matchup despite taking a few lumps late in the season while the Cards showed steady improvement. I think this one simply comes down to turnovers. If the Cats can keep their margin better than minus-1 — and that’s a big if at this point — I like their chances to control the game with their ground attack.

Mark Ennis, The Drive (939TheVille): Kentucky 33, Louisville 24. I feel better about this matchup for Louisville than I did a month ago. Ultimately, however, until Louisville shows it can win one of these games against better opponents it’s hard to pick them.

Bryan Edwards, Kentucky New Era: Kentucky 35, Louisville 31. Cards struggle defensively more than the Cats. Chris Rodriguez and Malik Cunningham both have career days but UK squeaks through.

Keith Farmer, WLEX-18: Kentucky 42, Louisville 35. This will be a shootout because Kentucky has had trouble with the running quarterback. Louisville is allowing 25 points per game and it seems to have come against a not-so-difficult schedule. The series is getting closer but Kentucky still has the upper hand in experience and depth.

Pat Forde, Sports Illustrated (adapted with permission): Louisville 30, Kentucky 27. The Wildcats are a minus-14 turnover margin, which is 129th in the country out of 130. They are one of only two teams in the bottom 17 in that category with a winning record (Liberty is the other). Louisville enters the game a plus-four in its last three games and hasn’t committed a turnover since October.

Dick Gabriel, Big Blue Insider: Kentucky 45, Louisville 42. Could be one of the more entertaining games in the series, played by two teams with dynamic quarterbacks and defenses that have a hard time stopping anybody. Last team with the ball wins.

Gary Graves, Associated Press: Louisville 37, Kentucky 34. The Cardinals have quickly hit another gear offensively behind Malik Cunningham and have figured out how to close games. Kentucky’s challenge is keeping up and protecting the ball, the latter of which could be the key.

Jon Hale, Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville 38, Kentucky 35. A month ago I thought Kentucky would win easily. Now, the defensive struggles and turnovers are too concerning to pick them.

John Huang, Nolan Group Media/JustTheCats.com: Louisville 31, Kentucky 28. Kentucky’s defensive unit hasn’t been the same since Marquan McCall and Octavious Oxendine went down with injuries earlier in the year. McCall is back, but the defense remains sketchy. A minus-14 turnover margin doesn’t help either. Throw in a sizzling Malik Cunningham, and the team wearing red and black will be the one finishing strong.

Matt Jones, Kentucky Sports Radio: Kentucky 38, Louisville 35. Both teams move the ball against each other but Cats convert one more time in the red zone.

Jared MacDonald, Bowling Green Daily News: Kentucky 38, Louisville 35. I think it’ll be close, but the Cats are slightly better and edge the Cards.

Edward Marlowe, WKDZ: Kentucky 45, Louisville 38. Akin to the Tennessee game, Kentucky will have to survive a ridiculous onslaught of offense while avoiding its turnover issues. Thankfully, the Cardinals’ defense is woeful.

Brian Milam, WKYT-27: Kentucky 40, Louisville 34. It’s been a few years since we’ve had a thriller, but that happens Saturday. Kentucky’s offense barely outduels U of L in another classic.

Jared Peck, Lexington Herald-Leader: Kentucky 38, Louisville 24. Cats put it all together, at last, but let Cards make a mini run in second half. Another big night for Wan’Dale Robinson.

Ben Roberts, Lexington Herald-Leader: Kentucky 38, Louisville 35. The defenses struggle to keep things under control, UK’s offense limits its mistakes just enough to squeak one out, and Wan’Dale Robinson comes up big in his first taste of this rivalry.

Nick Roush, Kentucky Sports Radio: Kentucky 45, Louisville 27. Louisville has the best player on the field. Kentucky has more offensive weapons, albeit turnover-prone athletes. It creates a recipe for either a close U of L win or a game that UK runs away with. In a game of 11-on-11, I will side with Kentucky’s Jimmies and Joes in a matchup defined by its physicality.

Justin Rowland, Cats Illustrated/Rivals: Kentucky 38, Louisville 35. There’s the potential here for one of the most exciting and competitive games this series has seen in awhile. Kentucky has a track record of playing well in this game the last couple of times so I’ll say a resurgent offense does just enough on the road.

Mike Rutherford, Card Chronicle: Kentucky 38, Louisville 30. The buildup to this one feels so much like 2019, which is probably why I can’t get what happened in that game out of my mind. The Cards keep things much more interesting this time, but UK’s sizable advantage in the trenches is once again the difference.

Alex Slitz, Lexington Herald-Leader: Kentucky 28, Louisville 21. Because why move the trophy out of Lexington?

Shawn Smith, Go Big Blue Country: Kentucky 37, Louisville 27. Louisville opened as the favorite but there’s still a talent gap in favor of Kentucky in this matchup. The game will be closer than it has been in recent years but in the end, Mark Stoops gets his third straight victory over Louisville while securing another 9-3 regular season.

Ty Spalding, CardinalSports/Rivals: Louisville 31, Kentucky 27. Malik Cunningham is as elusive as they come, and the team with the better quarterback is Louisville. I fully expect Cunningham and the passing game to challenge Kentucky’s defensive backs down the field, and in the end I think he makes enough plays — through the air and on the ground — to get the win.

Matt Stone, Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky 30, Louisville 20. Louisville is playing a lot better with Malik. But I feel the Cats will be up for this game.

Anna Maria Tarullo, Big Blue Tonight: Kentucky 35, Louisville 31. With U of L trending up, this game will be close. Close games have not favored the Cards this year. Louisville’s passing defense has had issues, so give the nod to Liam Coen and Will Levis in crunch time.

Kent Taylor, WAVE-TV: Kentucky 31, Louisville 24. The Cats, fueled by being underdog, use Levis and passing game to hold off the Cards.

Cameron Teague, Louisville Courier Journal: Louisville 24, Kentucky 21. I think both defenses will have a strong day, especially stopping the run so for me it comes down to Cunningham and Levis. I think Cunningham will be the best player on the field and finds one more big play late.

Derek Terry, Cats Pause/247Sports: Kentucky 38, Louisville 34. In a game that should feature plenty of points, Wan’Dale Robinson has a big day to lead UK to its third straight win in the series.

Tyler Thompson, Kentucky Sports Radio: Kentucky 45, Louisville 38. This one could be a shootout. Malik Cunningham is the type of slippery playmaker to give Kentucky’s defense fits but the Cats’ offense will gash the Cards as well. Ultimately, Kentucky’s running game will assert control and the defense will make enough stops to give the Cats their third straight Governor’s Cup victory.

Barkley Truax, Kentucky Kernel: Kentucky 38, Louisville 31. Kentucky has yet to see a player with the explosiveness that U of L quarterback Malik Cunningham displays on a weekly basis; the only player his game could be compared to would be Tennessee’s Hendon Hooker, who carved up the Kentucky defense. This game will be won on the offensive side of the ball. With Kentucky coming off a 707-yard offensive performance last week and Louisville a 687-yard performance, Brad White and Bryan Brown will have their hands full trying to prepare for these two offenses.

Kyle Tucker, The Athletic: Kentucky 42, Louisville 38. Maybe the score is reversed, but this will absolutely be a shootout. Two fun offenses, two bad defenses. Ding, ding.

Larry Vaught, vaughtsviews.com: Kentucky 35, Louisville 27. There’s probably going to be a lot of offense in this game that certainly should be a lot more entertaining than most thought it would be three months ago. I think the UK defense gets enough stops and if the Cats avoid a lot of turnovers that UK will pull out the win.

Alex Walker, WKYT-27: Kentucky 37, Louisville 30. Kentucky has a minus-13 turnover margin compared to plus-2 for the Cardinals, but I think the Cats take care of the football, score a defensive touchdown and win game No. 9, and make it three straight wins in this series.

T.J. Walker, Kentucky Roll Call: Kentucky 38, Louisville 24. Don’t be misled by Vegas, the Cats have a massive advantage in the trenches and UK will continue to dominate this series until that changes.

James Weber, Cincinnati Enquirer: Kentucky 42, Louisville 31. Fans in the Bluegrass State delight in an offensive shootout.

Dan Wetzel, Yahoo! Sports: Kentucky 31, Louisville 28. With all due respect to Malik Cunningham — and that is a considerable amount of respect — the Wildcats go on the road and show enough of that early-season defense to pull out a close one and cap a very strong season.

Dominique Yates, Louisville Courier Journal: Kentucky 28, Louisville 24. During the preseason and for the first month and a half of the season, I was confidently picking Kentucky. With the team’s recent struggles and Louisville’s steady improvements, it’s made my pick more difficult. I’ll go with my gut and give the advantage to Kentucky due to the offensive line giving Will Levis time, but I will say if it turns into a shootout and get into the 30s or higher, I think the Cardinals could make it a game.

‘I don’t need to worry about No. 1. Ever.’ How Wan’Dale Robinson has changed UK.

The John Clay Podcast: It’s Governor’s Cup Week

In run-up to Cats-Cards, an unlikely source might have given UK a motivation boost

Where to watch, how to follow Saturday’s Kentucky football game at Louisville

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