OVERALL RECORD: Kentucky, 13-9
LAST 10 GAMES: Louisville, 6-4
STREAK: Kentucky, 3
The first thing that might catch your attention is the number of games: Kentucky has faced Louisville just 22 times in its history, thanks in large part to a 70-year pause in the series between 1924 and 1994. The Wildcats have squared off against every SEC team except South Carolina and Arkansas more than that. Remember -- these are two schools that care more on average about their basketball than their football.
But the most competitive annual game for the Wildcats in recent years has been the in-state showdown with the Cardinals. As we mentioned earlier today, many of the SEC teams have long winning streaks against UK, while Vanderbilt has defeated the Cats just three times since 1995.
Not that the scores have always been close. Louisville defeated Kentucky by 16 or more points three times in a four-game span from 2003-06, including a 59-28 shellacking in 2006, the last time Louisville defeated Kentucky. That 2006 game also included 631 yards of total offense in Bobby Petrino's last season on the sideline for the Cardinals.
Since Petrino left, Kentucky has won all three games -- though the 27-2 Kentucky win in 2008 was the only time in that stretch that the Cats have won by a wide margin.
The game is also important in the in-state recruiting battle. Neither state is likely to draw big names from outside of the borders of the Bluegrass State, at least not on the scale needed to sustain a successful football program, so being the No. 1 team in the state is important. In the end, that might be more important to Kentucky's hopes than an individual game.
INTERDIVISION RIVAL: MISSISSIPPI STATE
It was easy to pick some of the interdivision rivals when the SEC went to a divisional format in the early 1990s, and even more so when they pared it back to a single interdivision game later: Alabama-Tennessee and Auburn-Georgia had to survive. South Carolina-Arkansas, the two most recent members of the league, made some sense. Then you had Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Mississippi State, Ole Miss and Vanderbilt. Somehow, Kentucky and Mississippi State were the choice. The Western Division Bulldogs won the game 31-24 in 2009, but the Cats still hold a 21-16 edge overall.