LOUISVILLE, Ky. - To say that the Louisville football program is heading into their bowl game with little momentum would be an understatement.
The Battle for the Governor's Cup might have come back after a one-year hiatus, but unfortunately for the home squad, recent trends in the series continued to press onward, as they were dealt a 52-21 loss to Kentucky on Saturday at Cardinal Stadium.
It marked the third-consecutive loss by the Cardinals (6-6, 4-4 ACC) to their hated rival, having not won since 2017 in Lexington, Ky. During that span, the average margin of victory by the Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 SEC) has been 36.3 points.
It was a stark contrast at the quarterback position. Louisville's Malik Cunningham went 12-of-20 for 145 yards and an interception, and Kentucky's Will Levis was 14-of-18 for 148 yards - but the real difference was on the ground. Levis rushed for 113 yards and four touchdowns, while Cunningham had just 53 yards and one score.
Add in a 121-yard effort from Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez, and 97 yards from wide receiver Wan'Dale Robinson, and Louisville was out-gained 511-352 in total offense, while allowing 28 first downs
Tight end Marshon Ford led all skill position players for the Cardinals, logging 68 yards on six receptions. Safety Qwynnterrio Cole led all defenders with 15 total tackles (11 solo).
From the very start, it was Kentucky who set the tone, and Louisville who was getting rattled, as Cunningham and the Cardinals offense had very little answer to the near-constant pressure being sent their way. Their lone score before halftime came on a one-yard run from Cunningham, but Louisville then proceeded to turnover on downs, go three-and-out, and miss a 49-yard field goal on their next three drives.
The defense didn't have a hot start, either. Louisville had no answer for Levis' ability with his legs, surrendering 29-, seven- and five-yard first half rushing touchdowns to him. Add in a field goal, and an early repertoire between Levis and Robinson, and Kentucky went into halftime with a 24-7 lead.
It didn't get much better after halftime. Levis punched it in from the goal line on Kentucky's first drive of the half, then Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke each added rushing scores of their own on the Wildcats' two ensuing drives.
As for Louisville, they added and an eight-yard touchdown pass to Josh Johnson from Evan Conley and a seven-yard rushing score from Maurice Burkley, but both came deep into garbage time. Kentucky added another rushing score during this time as well, coming from La'Vell Wright.
Already bowl eligible, next up, Louisville will await their postseason draw. The complete bowl schedule will be released on Sunday, Dec. 5, following the conclusion of conference championship weekend.
(Photo of Jalen Mitchell, Jacquez Jone: Jamie Rhodes - USA TODAY Sports)
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