That change is that the annual Governor’s Cup rivalry game against the Louisville Cardinals was no longer the first or third game of the season. Instead, it’s now the last game of the season.
With the SEC expanding to 14 teams and with Louisville preparing to join the Atlantic Coast Conference next year, the commissioners of both conferences asked Kentucky and Louisville if they would move the game to the regular season’s last weekend. Both schools agreed, and the move was made.
This move is a good one for several reasons. First and foremost, with the talk of the SEC moving to a nine-game conference schedule, the possibility of this game no longer being played was in discussion. Moving this game to the final weekend keeps it on the schedule, which is good for both programs.
Secondly, with the game falling on the last weekend of the regular season, it sets up an ACC-SEC rivalry weekend. And while Kentucky and Louisville may not have the tradition of a Georgia Bulldogs vs. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets, or a Florida Gators vs. Florida State Seminoles, or a South Carolina Gamecocks vs. Clemson Tigers, this game would be viewed as a part of that weekend, which is good for both programs.
And finally, while many fans liked the Kentucky-Louisville game to be the season’s first game because of the summer of hype preceding the contest, imagine the week of hype heading into the game if one of the teams needs a win to become bowl eligible; or, if one team was undefeated and only had to beat its rival to run the table.
Keeping the Kentucky-Louisville game on the schedule is good for both programs no matter when it’s played during the season. It’s good that both schools and both conferences were able to work out this agreement.