WESTERN KENTUCKY Coach:Bobby Petrino Record: 0-0 in first season at WKU, 75-26 in ninth season overall Last game: Central Michigan 24, WKU 21, Dec. 27, 2012 . Next game: at Tennessee, Sept. 7. Roster | Depth chart
Game Information Site: LP Field, Nashville, Tenn. (69,143) TV: ESPNews (Joe Davis play-by-play, Leo Peckenpaugh analysis, Terry Obee sideline) Radio: UK IMG Sports Network (Tom Leach play-by-play, Jeff Piecoro analysis; Dick Gabriel sideline); Sirius 132/XM 192. Internet:Audio | Video Favorite: Kentucky by 4.5
Series Information: Series record: UK leads 3-1 At Nashville: UK leads 1-0 Coaches' records: Stoops 0-0 vs. WKU; Petrino 4-1 vs. UK
Last meeting Western Kentucky 32, Kentucky 31, OT (Sept. 15, 2012, in Lexington)
Kentucky scored first in overtime, but the Hilltoppers answered with a two-yard touchdown run from Antonio Andrews and went for the win with a two-point coversion. Andrews took a handoff from quarterback Kawaun Jakes, then threw to Jakes, who ran into the end zone to seal the win and set off a wild celebration on the WKU sideline.
Keys to the Game
1. Head to head: The game features two considerable football minds in pitting Bobby Petrino's offense against Mark Stoops' defense. Petrino is the more seasoned of the two, having been a head coach in more than 100 games, while Stoops is in his first. And both have coordinators on their favored sides of the ball. But both men will be hands-on in their first games as head coaches in new homes, and the game figures to play out as a battle of wits between Petrino and Stoops.
2. Motivation madness: WKU is the underdog despite last season's win at Commonwealth Stadium and the preseason talk that the Hilltoppers could win 10 or more games. But the Wildcats, too, will have plenty of motivational material, including the latest fodder from Western linebacker, who according to the College Heights Herald said this week, "I don't care anything about them. We're going to handle them on Saturday" and "We just gonna hit 'em in the mouth and get it over with."
3. Dueling dual QBs: The chatter around Kentucky has been about which quarterback - Jalen Whitlow or Maxwell Smith - will take the first snap on Saturday. There's a good chance both will play. Western Kentucky, too, could throw a changeup at quarterback. Brandon Doughty is the starter, but the Hilltoppers are expected to give running QB Damarcus Smith some snaps to get a more dynamic athlete on the field.
T.J. Walker, Staff Writer: Kentucky 31, Western Kentucky 14
The Cats get their revenge, plus more. I get why many believe this will be a close game, and for three and half quarters it could be, but UK is the team with SEC talent and that will show Saturday. Don't point to last season; the new era of Kentucky football starts Saturday.
Aaron Smith, Staff Writer: Kentucky 27, WKU 17: There's so many unknowns here I could see this game going a variety of ways, and none would surprise me. There will be some rough patches for the Wildcats in their first outing, but a strong ground game led by Raymond Sanders gives Mark Stoops a win in his inaugural game.
Justin Rowland, Staff Writer: Kentucky 28, Western Kentucky 24 Two new coaching staffs. Kentucky has better talent but not by that much. Hence a narrow win. Simple enough right?
Brett Dawson, Publisher: Kentucky 31, Western Kentucky 28
Let's assume Neal Brown's offense puts up some points in Game One (not quite the 38 the "Air Raid" posted in its 1997 UK debut under Hal Mumme, but a solid start). Then it's up to the defense to keep WKU in check. The guess is that Stoops and D.J. Eliot push enough of the right buttons to make that happen. But not by much.