Sports information directors from around the country are constantly flooding my inbox. Game notes and press releases are constantly coming in to my inbox every day and I try to at least skim through each as they come in or when I have a chance to catch up. This evening I received one from Louisville and came across an interesting little stat about the series between Louisville and Kentucky.
According to Louisville’s records, the team winning the rushing battle has won each of the last 18 meetings between the bitter in-state rivals. This led me to quickly check the rushing numbers after two games and wouldn’t you know that Kentucky has been more productive on the ground out of the gates? Of course, Louisville also has a Heisman Trophy contender throwing passes for them, so perhaps this rushing stat is not quite as relevant this weekend.
Louisville has run the football 68 times for a total of 277 yards (averaging 4.07 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns. They did this against Ohio and Eastern Kentucky, far from top-level competition. Though only accounting for a small sample size, Louisville ranks 83rd in rushing offense. Again, having Teddy Bridgewater playing quarterback helps overcome any perceived lack of a running game. Louisville ranks fifth in the nation in passing offense. Louisville added former Auburn running back Michael Dyer to their roster this season but is listed third on the depth chart this week. Louisville’s running game is instead led by Senorise Perry and junior Dominique Brown.
Meanwhile, Kentucky has rushed for more than 200 yards in each of their first two games, against Western Kentucky and Miami Ohio. Kentucky has rushed 71 times for 478 yards (averaging 6.73 yards per attempt) and four touchdowns. Kentucky ranks 32nd in run offense, again using a small sample size of just two games.
Can Kentucky find a way to get the ground game moving once again? Louisville held Kentucky to just 93 yards on the ground last year while rushing for over 200 yards on offense. Kentucky’s running game is spearheaded by senior Raymond Sanders and junior fullback Jalen Whitlow and adds some young blood with freshman Jojo Kemp. The Wildcats are looking to get back to playing competitive football, and there will be no better opportunity to make a statement than by utilizing a strength in the running game to their advantage if possible against Louisville.
If there is one stat you are keeping track of in this weekend’s game, perhaps that will be it.