Another reason to distrust polls.
A Bluegrass Poll published on Oct. 8 indicated that 51% of the respondents across the state believed the University of Kentucky would win this year’s rivalry game against the University of Louisville, compared to 27% who thought UofL would win.
The poll was divided into four regions, with only the Louisville metropolitan area picking UofL to win, 44% to 36%.
The poll is commissioned by the Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington, and the Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV in Louisville. The fact that the question would be included in the poll is curious, especially during an election year. Obviously, a superficial attempt to stir up the fans.
At the time, Kentucky was 4-1, with “signature” wins over Vanderbilt and South Carolina. UofL was 5-1, with a disappointing loss at Virginia. The two teams have gone in opposite directions since then, with Kentucky losing five straight games and Uofl winning three out of five.
But Saturday is a rivalry game, evoking deeply felt emotions. Kentucky is still in contention for a bowl bid while UofL has its eye on a possible invitation to the Orange Bowl.
UK fans outnumber UofL fans by 5-1 across the state. Does anyone doubt the results would not be the same if the same respondents were asked the question again this week?
While some fans of school in Lexington may be ready to relegate their football program back to its dusty spot on the shelf, already having morphed into basketball mode, followers of the University of Louisville are preparing for one of the most symbolic football games in school history.
UofL and Notre Dame will meet for the first time ever in football Saturday at South Bend, ushering in a significant new rivalry. The iconic symbol of collegiate athletic programs in America, Notre Dame is the team every other team in America wants to play.
Saturday’s game will be another reaffirmation of the school’s commitment to compete at the highest levels in all sports. While basketball will always be a prestige program, Rick Pitino’s teams must share top billing with Bobby Petrino’s football program. UofL has been investing heavily in both programs for quite a while.
That’s as it should be because college football is among America’s most popular sports, falling only behind the National Football League and Major League Baseball in overall popularity, according to a 2014 Harris Poll. Auto racing is fourth, the National Basketball Association fifth, and the National Hockey League is sixth.
College basketball is seventh, believe it or not, only slightly ahead of tennis, boxing, swimming and golf. The poll results aren’t broken down by geography but suffice it to say, college basketball would obviously score much higher in Kentucky. Even in Louisville, which is consistently among the top TV markets for NCAA basketball.
Tom Jurich is ahead of the curve, having made the UofL football program one of his top priorities after his arrival. He has already engineered one major stadium expansion and he’s considering still another. Jurich was working for a date with Notre Dame long before the Atlantic Coast Conference was considered a possibility. He was able to leverage UofL’s football and basketball success into ACC membership, paving the way for this historic game.
Meanwhile over in Lexington, the University of Kentucky is finally renovating Commonwealth Stadium to accommodate more luxury suites (even though it is losing 6,000 seats) and investing in Mark Stoops to make football competitive. No doubt Kentucky fans will quickly jump aboard the band wagon if and when he does. Meanwhile, UK will remain a basketball school in a conference in which football will always be king.
Curiously, Kentucky and Notre Dame have never played in football, despite having played 62 basketball games since 1929. Whether UK administrators weren’t able to use their basketball leverage to get on Notre Dame’s schedule, UK couldn’t envision such a game, or the Irish simply weren’t interested may never be known. But it probably says something about Kentucky’s over-the-top obsession with basketball.
No doubt anymore about the immediate future of the Louisville-Kentucky football series, with the schools having signed a contract for three more games from 2017 to the 2019 season.
What Tom Jurich wants, Tom Jurich gets. Jurich has never waivered on wanting the University of Kentucky to be an annual opponent, even with his school’s entrance into the Atlantic Coast Conference. UK Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart, on the other hand, has waffled publicly, allowing speculation to grow that his school wanted out of the series.
Barnhart’s position, or lack thereof, may explain why no public announcement was made in July when the schools signed the new contract. The agreement only became public after fbschedules.com filed an open records request and obtained a copy of the contract extension from both schools. Barnhart obviously wanted to keep the extension quiet for as long as possible, and Jurich respected his wishes.
Many UK fans wanted out of the series. Understandably so after watching Louisville win seven out of the last 10 games. Now that UK is showing some signs of life, with some major advances in recruiting under Coach Mike Stoops, there’s a sense among the Big Blue faithful that Kentucky can reverse the trend. UK has actually won two SEC games, you know, and that’s enough for their fans to prematurely assert superiority.
A sizeable segment of UofL fans, including this observer, would have been okay with doing away with the game. While the annual game has been good for football in the state, it is not a friendly rivalry, creating unnecessary friction between UofL and UK fans who must live and work in close proximity.
In the early days of the series, the outcome of the game rarely made much of a dent in the national rankings, unless there was an upset quickly eliminating one of them from serious contention in the post-season. For the foreseeable future, however, they will be playing on the last week of the season. Everything could be on the line for either team.
Tom Jurich recognizes that having such a heated rivalry on the schedule can only be good in terms of fan loyalty. A strong dislike for anything UK is one thing that most UofL fans have in common, and every game against UK will be sold out and standing only, at least at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
Tim Kubel, a 165-pound freshman from Stuttgart, Germany, scored his first goal ever for the University of Louisville to lead his soccer team to a 2-1 victory over Kentucky at Lexington Tuesday.
The two UofL goals ended a four-game winning streak for the Wildcats, who had held opponents scoreless during those games. Louisville improved its record to 4-1-1, and sets its sights on ACC foe Pittsburgh Friday at Lynn Stadium at 7:30 p.m.
The University of Louisville’s ninth-ranked soccer team will square off against archrival Kentucky Tuesday at the Bell Soccer Complex in Lexington, hoping to avenge a 1-0 loss to the Wildcats in Louisville last season.
Could be a real challenge for the Cardinals because UK hasn’t allowed a goal in four straight wins, one of which was 1-0 decision over then No. 1-ranked Notre Dame. UofL, meanwhile, is coming off consecutive wins over Boston College and Duke and has a 3-1-1 won-loss-tie record.
Ken Lolla’s team is currently in first place in the Atlantic Coast Conference with a 2-0 mark, while UK has yet to play a Conference USA foe.
The game will be televised on SEC Plus, which isn’t available on Time Warner Cable.
However, it may be available on ESPN3, where it is listed on the schedule and the slot was working Tuesday morning.
Admission to the game for all fans will be one penny each, with proceeds going to the Mary Todd Lincoln House in Lexington.
* * *
The Louisville vs Wake Forest football game Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium will be televised by ESPNU with a 3:30 p.m. kick off and announcers Clay Matvick and Anthony Becht calling the game. The game will also be carried on Sirius Radio on Channel 108 and on XM on Channel 193.
* * *
Mark Blankenbaker, who runs the Crunch Zone fan blog, will be getting married Friday, somehow persuading his bride-to-be not to have their fall wedding on a football Saturday.
He will make the Wake Forest game at Papa John’s but the couple will be honeymooning next week and could miss the Syracuse telecast. One out of two is not bad for the groom.
Best of luck to the happy couple as they begin their journey.
Anthony Kidston hasn’t lost a baseball game since he arrived at the University of Louisville two years ago. He was 5-0 as a freshman, he’s 8-0 this season after UofL defeated Kansas 6-3 Saturday to assure the Cardinals will be in the championship game of NCAA Regional.
His personal winning streak dates back to his senior season at Defiance, Ohio, where he won nine games without a loss and compiled an earned run average of 0.59. He was also a decent hitter, batting .404 while driving in 33 runs that year In other words, he’s a winner.
Through the first four innings Saturday, Kidston had allowed only two hits while holding the Jawhawks scoreless. Kansas would score its first run after a walk and two singles. He would leave the bases loaded.
Dan McDonnell wasn’t about to pull him, however, needing a couple of more innings from the 6-foot-2 righthander. Kidston would give up two more singles, a walk and another run in the sixth, Kansas cutting the deficit to 6-2.
Still had another inning in him, shutting Kansas down 1-2-3 in the seventh. When he retired to the dugout in the eighth inning, Kidston had given up five hits while walking five batters and notching five strikeouts.
Not a masterpiece by any means but a very important win, assuring that UofL has a great shot at a Regional championship. If the Cardinals are successful, they host a Super Regional (after Florida State was eliminated Saturday).
Kansas and Kentucky will meet Sunday at noon in the elimination bracket with Louisville playing the winner of that game at 4 p.m.
The University of Kentucky baseball team was conducting practice at Jim Patterson Stadium but Louisville Coach Dan McDonnell says he hasn’t given much thought to a possible matchup with UK in the NCAA’s Louisville Region this weekend.
“The most important game we have is against Kent State,” he said during a press conference. “It’s the game of the moment. There is no other game.
“We’ve getting a lot of questions about possible match ups but there’s no guarantee we’re playing one of other two teams on the other side (of the bracket). And there’s a good chance we won’t. In just about every regional we host, there’s one team we don’t play. Right now Kent State’s the team. They went to Omaha a few years ago.
“As coaches and players, we have to focus on Kent State. I don’t see a bigger game than that. We hope to be in the winners bracket but I can’t hope, predict or want to play another team. Both of those teams (UK and Kansas) are really good. One of them is our rival, the other we haven’t played.”
McDonnell added that Kansas is really excited about playing in the Regional and reminds him a lot of his first UofL team that went to the College World Series in 2007. “Kansas is super excited about being here and you’ve got to be careful with teams like that. You can’t overlook any team in the NCAA.”