Kentucky vs. Louisville: Prediction & Odds (11/25/23)

Kentucky is heading across the state for a rivalry clash with No. 9 Louisville on Saturday (11/25/23). Get Kentucky vs. Louisville odds, picks and predictions below. Our best bet is under 50.5 points.

Kentucky vs. Louisville Prediction

After Scott Satterfield bolted to coach Cincinnati at the end of last season, Louisville’s Jeff Brohm era is off to a phenomenal start. Satterfield’s Bearcats are 3-8 in a very weak Big 12 conference, while the Cardinals are sitting at 10-1, with their first-ever trip to the ACC Championship booked. With FSU quarterback Jordan Travis out for the year, the Cardinals stand a phenomenal chance to win the conference crown for the first time. But nobody in Louisville would accept a loss to their in-state rivals before that climactic clash.

After a profoundly average 2022 season in which they finished 7-6, Kentucky is in a nearly identical position as the 2023 campaign winds down. The team once again finished 3-5 in SEC play, and owns an overall 6-5 record as bowl eligibility is secured. But there are few other positives that can be expressed about a team that started 5-0 and then completely fell off, very similarly to their struggles after a 4-0 start last year. Another similarity to last season is the quarterback position. Will Levis had an unspectacular final season in Lexington, and NC State transfer Devin Leary is doing the same now.

Last time Louisville beat Kentucky, the Cardinals were led by now-NFL MVP Lamar Jackson. The Wildcats have won four consecutive installments, to be exact, with a one-season hiatus during the COVID-19 weirdness of 2020. When this game kicks off, it will have been six years since Louisville has won this matchup. This is a very close rivalry over time, as Kentucky leads the overall series 19-15. The ledger is 15-13 in favor of Louisville since the modern annual series began in 1995.

None of those games matter now. Louisville has a great chance to flip the script. The Cardinals are favored by a touchdown, and look poised to keep the magic alive in what has been a truly historic season. Their defense has been one of the country’s best by EPA per play, ranking seventh by that metric, and should absolutely clamp a Kentucky offense that has been average amidst Leary’s struggles. That despite a really nice season from running back Ray Davis.

A flat spread like -7 isn’t exactly ideal, and it’s a fairly big number for a rivalry matchup. This is a big game, but winning the ACC and putting themselves on the fringes of the College Football Playoff discussion is a higher priority. Louisville could easily be playing offense with one hand behind its back as they try to avoid showing their hand to FSU.

The Kentucky defense has been solid, approximately top-50 this season by many metrics, That could be a challenge for quarterback Jack Plummer, probably one of Louisville’s weakest links. With solid matchups for both defenses, let’s play the under in this one.

Kentucky vs. Louisville Prediction: Under 50.5 Points

Kentucky vs. Louisville Best Odds

Louisville is favored by the key number of 7 points at home, or -275 on the moneyline against their in-state rivals. Kentucky’s line is set at +225, and the total is 50.5 with -110 odds on either side.

Kentucky vs. Louisville Key Matchups

Louisville will look to control the game and stay conservative by running the football, while Kentucky will absolutely need to break through against Louisville’s phenomenal pass defense to compete in this one.

Louisville Ground Game vs. Kentucky Run Defense

Ray Davis isn’t the only star running back in this game. He’s arguably not even the best one. Louisville’s Jawhar Jordan has been absolutely phenomenal this season. He’s cracked the 1,000-yard plateau on the ground while picking up 6.7 yards per carry and 11 scores. Even Louisville’s second back, Isaac Guerendo, is averaging 6.4 yards per carry and has scored seven times.

They’ll be running against a formidable Kentucky run defense, which ranks 24th in the country in EPA per play. Opponents are picking up just 3.3 yards per carry against the Wildcats, success that has been largely driven by the defensive line. The three highest-graded run defenders on the team as per PFF are d-lineman Deone Walker and just behind him, edge rushers Tre’vonn Rybka and Keaten Wade. Stopping the Louisville rushing offense at home is not a particularly realistic goal, but at the very least, Kentucky has the ability to provide enough resistance to force the Cardinals to lean on Plummer a bit more than they’d like to.

Kentucky Air Attack vs. Louisville Pass Defense

It’s borderline impossible to secure a road upset while largely keeping the ball on the ground. Davis will be a key contributor for Kentucky, but like it or not, the Wildcats will need to get something out of Leary in this one too. He’s made just 14 big-time throws this year, compared to 19 turnover-worthy plays. Under pressure, he’s even worse as that ratio falls to 2:11. One thing he’s done a good job of is spreading the ball out, as Dane Key and Tavion Robinson are essentially tied for the team lead in most categories, with Barion Brown not far behind.

Louisville’s pass defense can definitely give Leary fits. Them Cardinals rank fifth in EPA per play, and 14th in PFF’s pass rush grade, headlined by d-lineman Ashton Gillotte and his 10 sacks. The Cardinals also rank in the top-50 of PFF’s coverage grade, headlined by the cornerback duo of Quincy Riley and Storm Duck. Safety Devin Neal leads the team with four picks.

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From starting my own blog in Middle School, to working on a friend’s in college, and finally joining the Lineups team this year, I’ve been writing about sports for over a decade and betting on them as long as I’ve been legally able. I graduated from the University of Michigan last year, where I took sports journalism classes alongside my business major. Having played and watched sports for almost my whole life, I aim to provide insight and entertainment, as well as profitable picks, in my writing about professional and collegiate leagues.

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