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September 12, 2011Ronnie Sneed will never forget the week before Kentucky's win over Louisville in 2007. The senior linebacker was redshirting that year, and Kentucky's core of veterans was desperate for a win over their in-state rivals.
Those seniors had never beaten Louisville. The Cardinals dominated the series from 2003-06, winning four games in a row by a combined score of 158-76.
"There was nothing on their minds but trying to win that game," Sneed said. "Those guys played hard. I remember that game like it was yesterday. That 2007 Louisville was one of the most exciting games I've ever been a part of besides that LSU game."
Since then, the tables have turned. There's no player on Kentucky's roster who has ever lost a game to Louisville. Kentucky has won the last four meetings. But neither team has won more than four in a row since the rivalry game became an annual event in 1994.
Senior guard Stuart Hines, who also was redshirting in 2007, imagines that Louisville's seniors will be just as motivated as Andre Woodson and co. were before the Wildcats upset the Cardinals in 2007. Of course, there's always plenty of motivation to win the Governor's Cup anyway.
"You don't have to say much," Kentucky head coach Joker Phillips said." Our kids know about this rivalry. They know. We talk about the rivalries they've been in while in high school and it's magnified. I think the in-state kids in Kentucky are more familiar with it and they express it to kids who are not from the state of Kentucky."
Even for players like Sneed, who isn't from Kentucky, it's easy to get ready for a game like Louisville. Winning a fifth game in a row against the Cardinals would mean Kentucky's redshirt seniors were a part of history.
"They're going to be coming, but we don't want to be that team that lost to Louisville," Sneed said. "We're not going to let it happen."
Phillips was told during his Monday press conference that the last time Kentucky lost to Louisville in football, Tubby Smith was coaching the Kentucky basketball team. That's the way the rivalry has gone in recent years, as one program has jumped past the other and taken control in the series.
Phillips said he hopes Saturday isn't the start Louisville's next winning streak in the rivalry.
"You can't count on history to win this game," Hines said.
Cobb shines in debut
Former UK standout Randall Cobb got off to a fast start in his NFL debut on Thursday, scoring two touchdowns for Green Bay in a 42-34 win over the New Orleans Saints.
He scored his first career touchdown on a 32-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers late in the first quarter. He followed that up with a 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the second half.
"It didn't surprise anyone here," Phillips said. "The only thing that surprises me is that he brought it out eight yards deep. His athleticism, his ability to take it the distance, his balance, did not surprise me. He did something the coaches told him not to do, which surprised me. But none of the plays he made surprised anybody here."
Cobb became the first player born in the 1990s to play in an NFL game. He finished with 175 all-purpose yards in his debut, including 35 receiving yards and five yards on a punt return.
Junior center Matt Smith will not practice Tuesday. He has a sprained right ankle and has not played this season. He's also been out of town recently due to a death in the family.
"He wasn't as close as we thought he was (to playing)," Phillips said. "He's still trying to get treatment, trying to get himself back to where he can be an asset for us.
Senior right tackle Billy Joe Murphy will not practice Tuesday. He suffered a sprained knee in the season opener and did not play Saturday. Senior safety Taiedo Smith, who also has not played this year, will miss practice Tuesday.
Junior wide receiver Gene McCaskill will be held out of practice on Tuesday as a precaution while he continues to recover from tearing his MCL last season.
Senior defensive tackle Mark Crawford is still suspended, and Phillips said it was unlikely he would play this weekend.
Time set for Florida game
UK's home game against Florida on Sept. 24 will kick off at 7 p.m. and be televised on ESPN or ESPN2.
Television selections for games involving Southeastern Conference teams are made 12 days in advance.