Tony Vanetti: Alright, well before we get to The Governorâ€™s Cup which happens this Saturday at noon, letâ€™s go back to the Notre Dame and Louisville game where there are dozens of reported Kentucky fans head to toe in Kentucky gear cheering for Notre Dame. Matt, just explain to me how the UK fan works in that regard?
Matt Jones: Well, I think the good thing about these rivalries is that both sets of fans would do that. You have to cheer for the other team even if itâ€™s an evil team like Notre Dame. I watched that game mostly in misery because I really dislike both teams quite a bit, but I still ended up cheering for Notre Dame. It was a good game. You saw a lot of growth in Bonnafon at quarterback, I thought he played really well. Itâ€™s weird and this is just how football works. Their offense has gotten better as the yearâ€™s gone on and their defense has gotten worse. And I donâ€™t really understand why it happens like that, itâ€™s a bit Ying and Yang. And even though Notre Dame isnâ€™t all that good, I can objectively say that it was a big win for UofL.
Vanetti: The game finished off on two bad notes. Louisville missed a field goal and Notre Dame missed a field goal. But we pulled out a win and theyâ€™re home and ready for Kentucky this weekend. Speaking of, The Governorâ€™s Cup – how do you see this thing going?
Jones: Well, one of two things will happen; it will either come down to the very end and Kentucky will have a chance or they will get completely waxed and Iâ€™m not sure which one it will be. Kentucky has had a week off, Louisvilleâ€™s feeling good about themselves coming off a win against Notre Dame, so it could go either way. I think Kentucky, for most of the season, hasnâ€™t been much worse than Louisville. But in the last three or four weeks, theyâ€™ve been a lot worse. So, is that because they were just tired and worn out, or because theyâ€™ve gotten worse as other teams have gotten better? Who knows? But we will know in the first quarter. If itâ€™s a three point game within the first quarter then I think it will come down to the end, but it could very easily end up as another rout if Kentucky isnâ€™t ready.
Vanetti: My biggest fear is, if you look back to last year you could argue that Louisville put one of the best teams theyâ€™ve ever had on the field at Commonwealth. Louisville fans wanted blood. They wanted a beat down, and they didnâ€™t get it the year before because Charlie Strong took his foot off the gas. They wanted to go into Commonwealth with a huge rout and they didnâ€™t get it. It was very unsatisfying for the Louisville fans, I thought, and Kentucky started to make their â€œweâ€™re going to be better in footballâ€ move in that game. My biggest fear is whatâ€™s going to happen this weekend. That Louisville goes in over-confident, Kentucky comes in – not supposed to win – and they end up playing a heck of a ball game.
Jones: It would be a huge win for Kentucky because think about it; they would make a bowl game which would make it the biggest win of Stoopsâ€™ era, but also you could knock Louisville out of the Orange Bowl. And the chance to do both those things, especially when these two schools are recruiting against each other all the time – and Kentucky has kind of owned them in that regard – it would be a huge win for UK. With that said, theyâ€™re going to have to play a lot better than theyâ€™ve played the last six weeks to even have a chance and the question is again: have they just been tired and worn out or are they not as good? I donâ€™t know. Weâ€™ll see.
Vanetti: The quarterback position is a really good question, if you asked me four weeks ago, Iâ€™d have said Louisville was in trouble trying to find their identity at quarterback and some people would say that Towles was a sure fire NFL prospect. Now heâ€™s fallen off that a little bit in the last couple weeks and with Bonnafon – we have an injury and he has stepped up. But where are you all at quarterback wise?
Jones: Well, Towles is still the better quarterback. Letâ€™s see what Bonnafon does next year when he doesnâ€™t have DeVante Parker. I mean the vast majority of his throws that are caught are caught by Parker. Bonnafon, for a true freshman, has been good. Especially going into Notre Dame, but I believe Patrick Towles is an NFL quarterback. I think heâ€™s got to get some help though. If you look at the last four games where Kentucky has gotten beat badly, he has played well in all of them except the Missouri game. He played well against Georgia, he played well against Tennessee, heâ€™s played pretty well, but heâ€™s got to have help. I still pick Towles over Bonnafon, but the problem is when you look at the offensive side of the football and Iâ€™d probably take Louisvilleâ€™s people at every other position and thatâ€™s the problem.
Vanetti: Alright, Iâ€™m going to go ahead and make my prediction and I think itâ€™s going to be a closer game than people think, but I think Louisville wins 31 to 27. I think the problem for Kentucky is their run defense and at this point Brandon Radcliff and Michael Dyer are running the ball better than they have all year long so, if you continue not to tackle on Saturday, thatâ€™s going to be your problem.
Jones: I actually agree with almost everything. I think thatâ€™s probably close to about what the score will be. I will just add though, they could get blown out if they give it up. I hope they donâ€™t, itâ€™s Stoops second year so thereâ€™s no reason to give up but I just donâ€™t know.
Vanetti: Well, youâ€™re an insider guy – have you heard anything?
Jones: I havenâ€™t. But I havenâ€™t really heard anything at all. The funny thing is – the moment Kentucky beat Kansas by 32, football has not been on anyoneâ€™s mind. I havenâ€™t head anything from anyone about football. And thatâ€™s part of the problem for Stoops, heâ€™s got a fan base thatâ€™s kind of tuned him out. This is also a big test with having the game at the end of the season. The whole theory going into this was that no matter what happened with each team that people would still care, and thatâ€™s about to get tested on Saturday.
Vanetti: Okay really quick, why are you picking on that team last night?
Jones: Can we just talk about the fact that the Kansas game was maybe one of the best regular season performances Iâ€™ve ever seen? To take a top five team, and granted I donâ€™t think Kansas should be a top five team but theyâ€™re at least full of talent, but to take them and just destroy their will to live, Tony youâ€™ve got to admit that was pretty impressive?
Vanetti: Weâ€™ll disregard that Bill Self had the absolute worst game plan in the history of college basketball. They were playing into Kentuckyâ€™s hand and Kentucky was just demolishing them. Iâ€™ve never seen anything like that before in my life. Those are two teams that are supposed to be in the Final Four at the end of the year and Kentucky just delivered a message to the rest of the country that â€œwe are here and itâ€™s going to get ugly.â€
Jones: Yes! The other thing thatâ€™s just crazy is that offensively Kentucky didnâ€™t even play well. Kentucky shot like 38%. They won by 32 and could have played a lot better on offense, but their defense was absolutely overwhelming. And then the same thing happened last night against Montana State – who are awful but again, Kentucky didnâ€™t shoot the ball well and won by 58. Montana State may be the worst team Iâ€™ve ever seen in Rupp Arena.
Vanetti: Well that was embarrassing and I feel for that team. Congratulations – you guys are just picking on smaller kids.
Jones: This will be an all-timer stat, with just 10 minutes left in the game they only had 11 points.
Vanetti: Thatâ€™s ridiculous. Do you need me to go with you on Saturday and protect you?