Kentucky’s player turnover on defense, quarterback controversy, and head coach pressures, along with Louisville’s Charlie Strong Pride, confidence in QB Teddy Bridgewater, and presumed championship of the Big East have found the Wildcats a 14 point underdog.
But while the spread can often be the reason for over confidence before the game, it isn’t always indicative of the outcome. Here’s a look at the last five years and how it has compared to the spread:
2011, Kentucky was a 7 point favorite to the Cardinals who were coming off a loss to FIU and a mediocre win against Murray State. Louisville managed to pull off the upset in Commonwealth Stadium after Bridgewater threw for two touchdowns and the defense held the Wildcats to 17 points, setting the way for a 24-17 upset. 14 point difference between the outcome and the spread.
2010, Kentucky started the Joker Phillips’ era in Louisville as 2 point favorite against the Cardinals and new coach Charlie Strong. After Derrick Locke scrambled for 104 yards and 2 touchdowns on 23 carries, Kentucky found themselves on the positive side of the 23-16 outcome. Covering the spread at a 5 point difference.
2009 Kentucky was a 12 point favorite in Rich Brooks’ final game against Louisville in Lexington. Despite the QB play from Randall Cobb and running back Derrick Locke, Kentucky managed to withstand a late surge by the Cardinals and hold on to a 31-27 win that wasn’t decided until an interception of UofL QB Justin Burke in the final 2 minutes. Kentucky didn’t cover the spread with the 4 point win and saw an 8 difference in the spread that could have easily been 15 and a loss.
2008 Louisville was a 3.5 point favorite but in what was likely the ugliest game in the series, Kentucky mauled the Cardinals taking a 10-0 lead to half and finishing with a 17 point 4th quarter for a 27-2 final. Louisville failed to cover and saw a 21.5 point difference against the spread.
2007 Louisville was a 6.5 point favorite but Andre Woodson threw for 275 yards and 4 touchdowns including the final score with :28 remaining when Stevie got loose and caught a 57 yard go-ahead touchdown. With the 40-34 win, Kentucky beat the spread by 12 points and started their eventual four game win streak against Louisville.
Overall, the past five seasons of this rivalry, the favorite has only covered the spread once (Kentucky – 2010). That would suggest that this game would be closer than the 14 points Vegas has currently placed on it.