BOZICH | First Look: UK's Stoops chases Claiborne; Louisville fi - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | First Look: UK's Stoops chases Claiborne; Louisville first-time underdog

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – First, Mark Stoops beat Steve Spurrier. Now he's got a chance to beat Rich Brooks, Hal Mumme, Bill Curry and every other Kentucky head coach since Jerry Claiborne.

Kentucky's king-sized comeback victory against Spurrier and South Carolina Saturday night earned the Wildcats four votes in the latest Associated Press Top 25 college football poll.

It also earned UK the lead position in this week's First Take – an opening look at the college football games UK, Louisville and Indiana will play this weekend. (Western Kentucky is idle).

Here we go:

Louisiana-Monroe at Kentucky, SEC Network, Noon, Saturday: How does Stoops pull even with Claiborne in the record book? A win against Louisiana-Monroe would put the Wildcats at 5-1. Claiborne is the last Kentucky coach to start 5-1 in his second season on the job.

The Wildcats went 5-1 in 1983, winning their first four, losing to Auburn and then beating Louisiana State at Baton Rouge.

Here is the rundown on how the UK coaches who followed Claiborne performed in their second seasons:

Bill Curry 2-4; Hal Mumme 4-2; Guy Morriss 4-2; Rich Brooks 1-5; Joker Phillips 2-4.

Chances are that next week we'll be researching the last UK coach to start 6-1 in his second season. That wasn't Claiborne. The 1983 team lost game seven to Georgia.

Stoops' team has shown terrific balance, ranking 41st in the nation in passing yards and 42nd  in rushing yards.

The Line: The Wildcats are favored by 20 ½. But the Sagarin Predictor numbers say Kentucky by 24.88.

Louisville at Clemson, ESPNU, 3:30 p.m. Saturday – The Cards have not been an underdog all season. In fact, Louisville has not been an underdog since facing Florida in the Sugar Bowl in January 2013. That changes Saturday in Death Valley.

The first look at this one suggests the standard tussle between a powerful offense and a formidable defense. Although the Tigers are only 3-2, Clemson is averaging 40.4 points per game (19th in the nation), 53.7 ppg in its three victories over South Carolina State, North Carolina and N.C. State.

Louisville has yet to allow more than 23 points in a game. The Cards rank sixth nationally in points per game allowed at 12.7. U of L defensive coordinator Todd Grantham should know the Clemson offense. His Georgia defense played Clemson (a 38-35 35 loss) to open the 2013 season.

It's the Cards' first trip to Death Valley, Memorial Stadium at Clemson. The place holds 81,500. Clemson drew 78,459 for its game with N. C. State Saturday.

The Line: Louisville opened as a 10-point underdog, but Clemson is now favored by 12 1/2. The Sagarin Predictor numbers predict a closer game – Clemson by 7.28.

Indiana at Iowa, ESPNU, Noon, Saturday – It could be worse for Indiana. They could be matched against Nebraska from the Big Ten West. Of course, it could be better. The Hoosiers could be getting Illinois.

Instead it's the Hawkeyes (4-1), who are coming off a bye after back-to-back road victories against Purdue and Pittsburgh. The Hawkeyes don't have a great running game, averaging just 140 yards per game. They win with defense, ranking 16th in points allowed at 17.2.

Indiana needs quarterback Nate Sudfeld to play the way he performed against Missouri and North Texas instead of the way he played against Maryland. IU averages 33 points per game.

The Line: Hoosiers opened as a 7-point underdog and that's where the number remains. Sagarin's numbers tilt toward the Hawkeyes by 5.45.

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