Cats have plenty of motivation against Cards. 'We got embarrassed last year.'

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Kentucky doesn’t care that Louisville has won just two games this season.

Kentucky doesn’t care that the Cardinals are among the nation’s worst in most major statistics on both sides of the ball and have lost eight straight games.

Kentucky doesn’t care that Las Vegas sees the Wildcats as a big favorite going on the road to Cardinal Stadium.

All No. 15 Kentucky is focused on in this annual rivalry game to close out the regular season is playing better football than it did a season ago, falling 44-17 to Louisville.

The Cats aren’t looking at Saturday’s Governor’s Cup game as a revenge game per se, but last season’s loss has stuck with them much like the Florida and Mississippi State losses from 2017.

“We know what they did to us last year,” UK senior Josh Allen said. “We’ve all got a bad taste in our mouth from that game.”

The awful feeling of walking off the field last season after that loss has been a motivator.

“Everybody remembers the feeling,” senior safety Darius West said. “Everybody that was around the team remembers the feeling.”

It doesn’t leave the back of Kash Daniel’s mind.

“Let’s call a spade a spade, we got embarrassed last year,” he said.

It’s come up a time or two this week as the Cats prepared, with Coach Mark Stoops adding: “They whooped us. That’s a fact.”

So the goal is to finish out the season strong, help UK earn its ninth win of the regular season, becoming just the second team to do that in 68 years of Kentucky football. Only the 10-1 team from 1977 was able to win nine before the postseason during that period.

Kentucky remembers those aforementioned losses from last season, but it also remembers the most recent loss at Tennessee two weeks ago when the Cats went in as the favorite and laid an inexplicable egg.

It led to a long, quiet, three-hour bus ride back to Lexington.

“After the Tennessee game, we kind of set the law straight that you’ve got to be hungry now,” running back Benny Snell said. “It doesn’t matter how much success you get, you’ve still got to have that hunger.

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“Guys coming out with that edge, coming out with that hunger. We usually are the team getting hit first. We want to punch them first. That’s what we want to do this week.”

And Kentucky (8-3) knows it will be facing a Louisville team (2-9) that is plenty motivated, too.

Daniel said: “They’re a hungry football team. You can see that on film.

“Their record doesn’t speak for how athletic and how talented they really are,” he continued. “When you watch their film, they’ve got really athletic quarterbacks. All their receivers are really athletic and can create. They say speed kills and they’ve got a lot of speed out there on the edge.”

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