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Kentucky Louisville Betting – Strong and Phillips: Old Friends Now Foes

Posted by Blake Frazier on 8/27/2010 4:06:04 PM

When Charlie Strong and Joker Phillips were assistant coaches together at South Carolina, they made a pact that when Strong received his first head coaching job, Phillips would be his offensive coordinator. Neither envisioned they’d both get their head coaching starts at in-state rivals. Strong, now at Louisville, and Phillips – the head man at Kentucky – will each make their head coaching debuts on the opening weekend of the season in a heated rivalry game that has featured down-to-the-wire finishes in 2009 and 2007, and runaway victories in 2006 and 2008.

NCAA football betting: Kentucky @ Louisville

Online Betting Odds: Kentucky -3

Why To Bet On Kentucky

The Wildcats have continuity on their side. Phillips has been on the staff at Kentucky since 2003. In 2009 he was named the head coach in waiting and now takes over a team with which he is very familiar. The schemes won’t change much on either side of the ball. Phillips also has the luxury of having two extremely dangerous weapons in running back Derrick Locke and all-purpose wide receivers Randall Cobb. Cobb is dangerous both as a receiver and as a running threat in the Wildcat formation (not because the team is nicknamed the Wildcats, of course; the Wildcat name predated Kentucky’s adoption of the formation). Senior Chris Matthews provides a big deep threat on the other side of the field to complement Cobb. Matthews will keep defenses from keying solely on Cobb in the passing game.

The other big key in Kentucky’s favor is that Louisville is rebuilding. The Cardinals were gutted by the disastrous, train-wreck tenure of beleaguered coach Steve Kragthorpe. The college football community is painfully aware of the extent to which Kragthorpe squandered upper-tier talent, failed to instill a proper work ethic in his team, and allowed all aspects of the program to slip. Louisville should improve a lot under Strong, but in week one, lessons are likely to be learned by the Cards. Kentucky will benefit.

Why To Bet On Louisville

Since taking over, Charlie Strong has emphasized that he wants his offense to be physical. That’s good news because the team that has rushed for more yards has won this Commonwealth clash game every time it’s been played. The Cardinals return a pair of dangerous backs in Victor Anderson and Bilal Powell (Anderson had 110 yards against Kentucky in 2009) as well as all five offensive linemen. With uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Cardinals figure to rely heavily on the ground game and moving the chains with a physical rushing attack. It helps that Kentucky’s defense lost its best defensive lineman and all of the linebackers from 2009. It is often overlooked that Louisville actually outgained Kentucky in last year’s matchup.

How The Game Will Play Out

The Cardinals desperately want to end their three-game losing streak to Kentucky. Nevertheless, the talent and depth are too inadequate for that drought to end this year. Kentucky’s familiarity with its own system, plus its offensive balance and Louisville’s relative lack of size up front, likely means that while the game might be close for a half or even three quarters, the Wildcats should finally be able to impose their will on Louisville’s defense and win the game.

Kentucky Louisville Betting Pick: Kentucky

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