Cats Asking for Difference-Making Crowd for Louisville Showdown

A season ago, Kentucky and Louisville played to a near draw in their annual Governor’s Cup showdown.

The game featured seven lead changes, the last coming on a U of L touchdown with 2:47 remaining to give the Cardinals their final margin of 44-40.

Any number of factors could have swung the game’s outcome, from a dropped pass to a missed tackle to a call going the other way. That includes the venue.

Last time, Louisville played in front of its home crowd. For the rematch on Saturday, it’s Kentucky’s turn.

“It is a definitely advantage for us to play at home,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said.

To maximize that advantage, UK will be looking for its fans to come to Commonwealth Stadium in droves.

The Wildcats have played in front of sellout crowds in four of seven home games this season. That doesn’t include a 58-10 win over Charlotte on Saturday, but Stoops was still appreciative of those fans who braved the elements nonetheless.

“I said it postgame after the Charlotte game that I really appreciated all the fans that were here,” Stoops said, “and I saw a bunch of my friends and different people at the game and I thanked them for being here because it was a dreary, nasty night against an opponent that not a lot of people knew a lot about and they were still there supporting us.”

Now, Stoops hopes those same fans are joined by many more for Saturday’s noon game.

“I ask for everyone there this week,” Stoops said. “We need the stadium packed and need a great environment to root this team on and cheer them on to get our sixth win. We need to use that home field advantage to help us.”

As Stoops touched on, UK will face Louisville with bowl eligibility on the line for the second season in a row. On top of that, the game pits two in-state arch rivals against one another.

That means there will be plenty to cheer for.

“We have a lot riding on it as you know, not just in-state and recruiting and things like that, but more importantly to just build our program and get that sixth victory,” Stoops said. “We put ourselves in this position with some miscues late in the season in the Vandy game in particular. So it is what it is and now we need to go out and play well in this game. It always has importance and I think it is very important to us this year.”

And if that wasn’t enough, UK will be sending off a group of players playing their final home game on Senior Day. It’s a group that has weathered a coaching change and embraced. wholeheartedly to Stoops’ vision for the Kentucky program.

Accordingly, Stoops says they deserved a special sendoff.

“I really do greatly appreciate these guys,” Stoops said. “They’ve bought in. They’ve continued to become leaders, even this last year. They care a great deal. It is our obligation, as the Big Blue Nation, to send them out the right way. We need that stadium packed.”