Well it’s finally here. The weekend we’ve been waiting for. College football returns, and around here, we kick it off in grand style with the big Governor’s Cup Kentucky vs. Louisville rivalry game.
WHAS11 is the home of the Governor’s Cup game. We start our coverage with Reed Yadon live outside Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium during Good Morning Kentuckiana, followed by the premier of The Strong Side, Louisville coach Charlie Strong’s new show at 9:30. WHAS11’s coverage returns to the air at 2:30 with the Battle of the Bluegrass hosted by Sports Director Matt Hobbs and Drew Deener, followed of course by the game. A post-game wrap show follows the game and takes you to ABC’s national coverage of LSU and North Carolina in the Chic-fil-a Kick-off Classic. WHAS11 wraps it all up of course with highlights and complete coverage on 11@11.
So really, just put on WHAS11 when you wake up, then hide the remote between the couch cushions, or some other less obvious place.
This year is the year of the new in this rivalry. Both teams bring in new head coaches. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium has a new expansion. Both defenses and O-lines are new. The Cards have a new offense. New, New NEW!
Ultimately though, in my opinion, this game comes down to what’s not new. The first factor is the quarterback battle. While Mike Hartline is not a great quarterback, he is a senior and again, in my opinion, superior to his starting quarterback counterpart Adam Froman. FWIW, Hartline’s back-up, Morgan Newton, may be the best quarterback in the contest, and it is likely he will see some action. Cards freshman Dominique Brown could be a threat if he sees the field.
The running back position is close. Derrick Locke on Kentucky is excellent, and maybe the most “sure thing” of the backs in this game. Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell should form a formidable threat at RB for Louisville, and if they both are at their peak, this game may go either way. The same dynamic exists at WR, where the Cardinal receivers have talent, but have performed inconsistently in the past while the UK stable is deeper and more established.
Both O-lines and both defenses are filled with questions. We need to see them on the field before we can make a reasonable guess. The Kentucky D-line returns some nice pieces. Charlie Strong seems happy with his offensive line. So we will see.
All I have to go on though when making a prediction is what I know and what I have seen. There is one player I have not mentioned that is the difference in this game. I’m sure you all know I have left out Randall Cobb. In a game full of questions, he is the unquestioned best player on either team; and good news Cats fans- he’s on your team. He is the best QB, RB and WR in this game and he’s an upperclassmen. He makes the difference. Kentucky wins 31-21.
Of course there is other college football this weekend. Oh boy is there! Each week in the “Weekend What’s Next” we will take a look at some of the major contests that weekend nationally. Also, I am going to rip off the ever present “upset of the week” concept as well as something I saw last night on the Big 10 network. They called something like “outrageous prediction.” Last night their analyst predicted Indiana RB Darius Willis would rush for 175 yards against Towson. He finished with 104 in a dominating 51-17 Indiana win. So they missed. If I ever get either of them right I will do the Truffle Shuffle. Not on TV.
Big Games, we’ll start local:
Western Kentucky at #8 Nebraska: 7:00PM. Willie Taggert is also a new coach in the bluegrass as he will try to the Hilltoppers back on track. Taggert is the youngest coach in the FBS and WKU has not won since 2008.
Also of note in this game is the fact that a member of the WHAS11 staff has whispered to me that Nebraska is one of his “under the radar” national title picks. For now I will protect his name, so as to protect him from ridicule when that prediction falls flat. However if he proves out and the Huskers make a push to play for the title, I will give him his props. I promise.
Connecticut at Michigan: 3:30PM. This game caught my attention because it will be a good gauge on whether or not Rich Rodriguez’s 3rd Michigan team will meet a similar fate to his first two (and likely seal Rodriguez’s.)
San Jose St. at #1 Alabama: 7:00PM. Heisman Trophy winner Mark Ingrahm is out with a knee injury. I’m intrigued to see if his backup, Trent Richardson, is able to match his output level. I suspect he will be. In my mind Ingrahm’s Heisman was a team award as much as an individual award a year ago, and that any top SEC level back would have been able to run for those yards. Maybe I can gain a new appreciation for his skills from watching the Tide without him.
#24 Oregon State at #6 TCU: 7:45PM ESPN. This game is being played in Dallas at Jerry Jones monster stadium. Can TCU repeat the huge season from a year ago? Is Oregon St. the best team in the Pac-10? I am skeptical.
#21 LSU at #18 North Carolina: 8:00PM WHAS11. I stated in my un-researched college football blog a few weeks back that LSU was on the “A”-list when it comes to possible national title contenders. I made that assertion based on the schedule and talent level. I have since heard I may have over-estimated their talent, but I’m sticking with them as a possibility for now. This game against Butch Davis’s UNC squad will be a good test, even if the UNC defense will be playing short-handed.
#3 Boise St. vs. #10 Virginia Tech: Monday 8:00PM ESPN. The game of the weekend, being played at Fed Ex Field (the best place I have ever watched an NFL game by the way). This is called a “neutral site” game, but c’mon it’s a home game for the Hokies. I am not a believer in Boise State. I am the subject of ridicule from Adam Lefkoe for this. The Broncos can prove me wrong with a win here. Their schedule gets criticized as too easy, and I agree with that. This game here though…doesn’t get any less easy than a cross country trip against a top 10 relative power in the opposition’s backyard.
Upset of the Week: I would have liked to pick Utah over Pittsburgh here, and I would have been right. Pitt is breaking in a new QB multiple and offensive lineman. They were ripe for the picking. They may be real good by the end of the year, but there will be some learning time. For the weekend, I will take UNLV over Wisconsin, but I don’t really think it will happen. I wanted to pick a top 25 team to lose to a team outside the top 25, and I really don’t see a prime candidate, so I will take UNLV to take down Wisconsin at home. If you forced me, I would say Auburn and Texas better show up as well, but the chance they get knocked off is pretty low to me.
Outrageous Prediction: I’m going to keep it local and say Dominique Brown will play in 15+ snaps at some position for Louisville Saturday.
Believe it or not, they are still planning on playing all the other sports this weekend as well. We may as well start with the …um ..red-hot Reds. The Reds lead the NL Central by a suddenly commanding eight games with 26 to play. It starts with three in St. Louis in a series that isn’t as huge as it was two weeks ago. St. Louis needs a sweep, and if they lose the series, the division will be all but over. It may be anyway, and I couldn’t be more impressed with Cincinnati.
Our local Louisville Bats bunch complete their season this weekend. They sit 1.5 games out of first in the IL West, and lead the wild card by 3 games over a suddenly on fire Syracuse team. It looks like post-season baseball will be played in Louisville, and the weekend series with Indianapolis (2 there, 2 here) will sort it out.
The FIBA World Championships move to the quarterfinal phase in Istanbul (not Constantinople). The Kevin Durant lead USA squad plays Monday,
Nascar is in Atlanta, one of the most boring tracks on the circuit. With no race last week, the Race for the Chase is unchanged.
Tennis will have plenty of US Open action over the weekend if that is your thing. I like playing it, but do not follow. Danielle Santoro will be watching though.
So enjoy, Thursday night saw some interesting and entertaining college football, and this weekend looks to continue it. September baseball, college football? We are moving into the sweet spot on the sports calendar my friends.