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Composure will be key for Wildcats in Saturday’s matchup against Cardinals in Louisville

By Keith Taylor
Kentucky Today

Kentucky has won just one game in the last month and the Wildcats seek to end the regular season on a positive note Saturday against instate rival Louisville.

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops would like nothing more than to close the chapter on his first decade with the Wildcats with two victories going into the off-season.

“I think it’s very important to win the last game and it’s important to win the bowl game,” he said. “It sets the tone for the whole offseason and the morale of your team. And so, it’s a big game. It’s a rivalry.”

Kentucky quarterback Will Levis rushed for four touchdowns in last year’s 52-21 win at Louisville last year. (Photo by Les Nicholson, Kentucky Today)

The Wildcats (6-5) have dominated the series against Louisville during the past three meetings and have scored at least 40 points, defeating the Cardinals 52-21 last year. Kentucky won four straight over Louisville from 2007-10 and will be looking to repeat the feat a second time since the rivalry was revived in 1994.

In the last home game of the year, the Wildcats will honor 28 seniors, including quarterback Will Levis and running back Chris Rodriguez. Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White said Kentucky can’t get caught up in the emotion and the hype.

“It’s going to be about composure,” White said. “And that’s, whether it’s Senior Day, whether it’s rivalry, the team that can stay composed, stay focused on the job at hand and not let their emotions get the best of them, they can let those emotions fuel them but not overtake them.”

Kentucky showed grit and fight in a 16-6 loss to top-ranked Georgia last Saturday and Stoops will be seeking the same intensity against the Cardinals.

“We need to continue to build and play with the great intensity that we did a week ago,” the Kentucky coach said. “I thought our guys played extremely hard. I thought our coaches gave us a good opportunity to be successful. Our players played very hard. They had a great competitive spirit about them and competed and were very physical, gave us our opportunities.”

Levis, who rushed for four touchdowns in last year’s blowout win over the Cardinals said Louisville likely will be using his performance in last year’s contest as “motivation” but added the Wildcats will be ready to match that intensity.

“I think the fact that it is a rivalry game is as much motivation as we need,” Levis said. “Just how much it means to our team. To be a part of the rivalry is fun.”

Louisville (7-4) has won five of its last six games and are coming off a 25-10 win over North Carolina State, The Cardinals limited the Wolfpack to 77 yards rushing and recorded five sacks.

“They are playing very confident, they’re playing together, they’ve got a lot of veteran players who have played together for a while up front,” Kentucky offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello said. “They’re playing very well. Outside of Clemson, people have really struggled against them.”

Gametracker: Kentucky at Louisville, 3 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: SEC Network,UK Radio Network.

Keith Taylor is the sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com and via Twitter at keithtaylor21.

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