After a 4-0 start and a No. 7 ranking, the 2022 season hasn’t been kind to the Kentucky Wildcats. Limping into the regular season finale at 6-5, Kentucky could use good news to finish things out.

Enter the Louisville Cardinals, 7-4 and winners of a pair of games against ranked teams in their past 4 games. Louisville might be without dual-threat QB Malik Cunningham, who missed their win against N.C. State. And recent history in the series has been kind enough to the Wildcats that they remain favored by a field goal in most point spreads.

Still, confidence has been flagging for Kentucky. Here’s 5 reasons the Wildcats will handle Louisville and finish the regular season on an uptick:


Yes, it’s true that the 2018, 2019 and 2021 Wildcats won’t be much help in 2022. But the numbers above represent the combined score of Kentucky’s past 3 matchups against Louisville.

While every installment of a rivalry game is different than any other, Kentucky hasn’t lost to Louisville since 2017. And most of the Louisville players have been on the business end of a beatdown or 2 from the Wildcats.

Will Levis is – relatively – healthy

After limping through the majority of the 2022 season, quarterback Will Levis is something near healthy according to UK coach Mark Stoops.

That matters especially because a year ago, Levis ran circles around the Louisville defense, rushing for 113 yards and 4 touchdowns in Kentucky’s easy win. This year, a physically limited Levis hasn’t topped 26 yards rushing in any game and has scored just 2 touchdowns all season.

But that 26-yard total came in Kentucky’s last game and getting the ability to use the QB run game back could make a difference for the Wildcats.

The loss or limitation of Cunningham matters

Malik Cunningham hasn’t had a ton of success against UK, but he is Louisville’s leading rusher on the season (561 yards with 11 rushing TDs). If Cunningham’s right shoulder injury prevents him from playing, backup Brock Domann has 87 career rushing yards.

Domann is also a 51-percent passer with 2 touchdowns and 4 interceptions on the season. Louisville’s offense needs Cunningham’s rushing, but it needs his passing too. Whether Kentucky gets no Cunningham or a limited Cunningham, it makes the defense’s job much easier.

Kentucky isn’t turnover prone, and Louisville feasts on turnovers

The secret to Louisville’s 7-win season is a plus-12 turnover margin. In victories, the Cardinals have forced 20 turnovers and given up only 7. But in Louisville’s 4 losses, the Cardinals have forced 8 turnovers and have given away 9.

Kentucky has 2 turnovers in its past 3 games. The Wildcats have had more than 2 only twice all year: 3 in a blowout win against Youngstown State and 3 in a blowout loss to Tennessee.

Kentucky’s offense has had its problems this year, but its low-risk nature is the opposite of what Louisville likes seeing.

Kentucky always runs well on Louisville

The last time UK failed to rush for 200 yards against Louisville was 2015. Since then, Kentucky has rushed for 229, 228, 340, 517 and 362 yards in the Governor’s Cup game.

Now, as with the first reason above, the past doesn’t necessarily inform the present. But at the same time, even in seasons when Kentucky’s offense was limited or struggling, facing Louisville meant that the Wildcats got back to their roots and ran the football like they meant it.

Senior running back Chris Rodriguez has rushed for 125 and 121 yards against Louisville in his only 2 games against the Cards. When Kentucky can present opposing defenses with a dual threat, the Wildcats look more like the UK teams that have blasted Louisville in seasons past.

Which is what the Wildcats will be counting on for a minor Thanksgiving miracle.