LOUISVILLE, Kentucky (Ticker) -- Louisville had the best offense
in the Big East Conference last season. This year the goal is
to be the best team.
With Heisman hopefuls Brian Brohm and Michael Bush leading the
way, the 13th-ranked Cardinals open the season Sunday against
in-state rival Kentucky in a battle for the Governor's Cup.
Kentucky leads the overall series, 10-8, but Louisville has
had the better of the matchup of late, winning three straight
and six of the last seven games.
Kentucky's last win came here, 22-17, in 2002. Last season,
Bush ran for 128 yards and two TDs to lead the Cardinals to a
Louisville made its Big East debut last season and was the heavy
favorite to win the conference title and a trip to a BCS bowl
game. Instead the Cardinals were blown out in their conference
debut at South Florida, lost at West Virginia in overtime after
opening up a 17-point second-half lead and watched as the
Mountaineers went on to the Sugar Bowl and defeated Georgia.
The Cardinals won their last five regular-season games but lost
Brohm to a knee injury in the second-to-last game of the season.
The year ended with a 35-24 loss to Virginia Tech in the Gator
Brohm is now back under center and looking to build on a season
in which he was named the conference's offensive player of the
year. A Louisville native, Brohm threw for 2,883 yards and 19
TDs last season to lead a Cardinals offense that led the Big
East with 482 yards and 43.4 points per game.
Kentucky will not only have to worry about Brohm through the air
but also about the bruising Bush on the ground. Another local
product, Bush led the nation in scoring last season and rushed
for 1,143 yards and 23 TDs.
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks could really use a win over
Louisville as he faces what is likely a make or break season in
Lexington. The Wildcats are just 9-25 in his three seasons and
have not been to the postseason since the 1999 Music City Bowl.
One player who will be key in any turnaround Kentucky has this
season will be running back Rafael Little. After a breakout
2005 campaign, Little will be the focal point of Brooks'
Last season he led Kentucky in rushing (1,065 yards),
all-purpose yards (180.2 per game), punt returns (16.9 yards per
return) and receiving (46 catches). Little finished fifth in
the nation in all-purpose yardage and punt returns and rushed
for 100-plus yards five times
Top 25 Overview
Brian Brohm and Michael Bush, the Derby City duo, need a good start to help their respective Heisman chances. Rich Brooks needs a good start to help him stay in Lexington.