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Bluegrass Bragging Rights

Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm doesn't need to look far to get motivated to face Kentucky - the billboards around the city remind him every day.

Brohm tries to complete his collegiate career undefeated against his intrastate rivals as the 9th-ranked Cardinals travel to Lexington on Saturday for bragging rights in the Commonwealth.

Despite the change in coaches from Bobby Petrino to Steve Kragthorpe, Brohm has picked up where he left off as Louisville (2-0) has decimated two lesser opponents to start the season. The senior has completed 68.3 percent of his passes for 776 yards and nine touchdowns without an interception in helping the Cardinals lead the nation in scoring average (65.5) and total yards (692.0).

But even with its rise to national prominence, Louisville often plays second fiddle to Kentucky. The Wildcats' athletic department took a creative approach in promoting the football team this year, putting up billboards of prominent players around Louisville that caught Brohm's attention.

"I think a lot of our guys use it as motivation,'' said Brohm, who threw for 254 yards and a touchdown in last year's 59-28 rout of the Wildcats. "You come into summer workouts and you have to drive by the billboards every day. It's something to get fired up about.''

Oddsmakers from SBG Global  have made Louisville -6.5 point spread favorites (View College Football odds) for tonight's game, the over/under has been set at 77 total points (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 74% of bets for this game have been placed on Louisville -6.5 (View College Football bet percentages).

The Cardinals (2-0) stayed unbeaten this season with a 58-42 victory over Middle Tennessee State last Thursday. Anthony Allen rushed for a school-record 275 yards, while Brohm threw for 401 and five TDs as Louisville rolled up 729 yards of total offense to compensate for a defense that allowed 555 yards and 10.1 yards per play.

"We made the big plays when we needed to make them,'' Kragthorpe said. "It's not exactly the way we wanted to play in every phase, but the bottom line is winning.''

Despite the locker-room motivational fodder for the Cardinals, coach Rich Brooks and the Wildcats (2-0) are embracing the challenge of trying to keep up with Louisville. Brooks has made it clear to his team the game goes beyond state bragging rights and winning this contest can get the nation's attention.

"This is a huge game. It's one of the first times that we can be a player on the national scene," he said. "Louisville has been on that scene for three or four years now, and rightfully so, they're an outstanding team. If you've looked at the top 25, we're going to have a lot of these this year, but this one obviously means a little more because it's an in-state rival.

"We talked a lot this year about opportunities to do things that Kentucky hasn't done. One of those things is not beating a ranked opponent in a long time and like I said, we'll have more than enough chances to do that this year."

Kentucky has not beaten a ranked team since the last time it held the Governor's Cup - awarded to the winner of this game - with a 22-17 victory in 2002. The Wildcats also do not have a win over a Top 10 team since defeating then-No. 4 Penn State 24-20 in 1977.

Like the Cardinals, the Wildcats have shown a balanced, high-powered offense in routing their first two opponents. Kentucky followed up a season-opening 50-10 win over Eastern Kentucky by pounding Kent State 56-20 on Saturday.

That marked the first time the Wildcats scored 50 points in consecutive games since the start of the 1998 season.

Kentucky has averaged 272 rushing yards its first two games, and while that has given Brooks optimism, he also realizes the Cardinals are a huge step up in class of opponent.

"Well, I'm pleased to see us progress, but I'm also cautious of the fact that it was against a very good I-AA team and a good MAC team, but not against a top-national football team," he said. "We have the backs that can do it, but now we have to prove that we can block bigger, stronger and faster defenses."

Wildcats quarterback Andre Woodson has been impressive, completing 35 of 51 passes for 468 yards and five touchdowns. His streak of 213 consecutive attempts without an interception dating back to last season is one shy of the SEC record held by Georgia's David Greene.

Louisville has won the last four games between the teams to trail the all-time series 10-9, outscoring Kentucky 158-76 in that span. The Cardinals are 9-4 since the 95-year rivalry was renewed in 1994.

by: Anthony White - theSpread.com - Email Us

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