Kent Taylor, picture courtesy WLKY.

The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a college basketball-crazy state. However, this weekend, college football takes center stage. For the first time ever, the University of Kentucky and the University of Louisville are 5-0 at the same time. No.20 Kentucky will travel to top-ranked and two-time defending national champion Georgia (5-0). Meanwhile, No.25 Louisville will host No.10 Notre Dame (5-1).

Awful Announcing recently caught up with WLKY sports anchor Kent Taylor to discuss one of the biggest college football weekends this state has ever seen. The games will be broadcast on Saturday night on ESPN and ABC respectively. 

Note: This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Awful Announcing: Is this the biggest regular-season college football weekend ever in the Commonwealth?

Kent Taylor: “We always have a recency bias, but you’d be hard-pressed to remember one bigger considering they’re both 5-0, they both just climbed into the rankings, and then you throw in how high profile the two opponents are. I think it probably does stack up. Kentucky plays the number one team in the country. Louisville plays Notre Dame, the most high-profile program in the history of the sport.”

What has gone right for Kentucky?

“I think the schedule was right. They were able to work out some kinks early against some lesser opponents (Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, and Akron) before getting into their SEC schedule. In the recent past, they’ve always played Florida in Week 3 or South Carolina. But they were able to kind of ease into it. They got Vanderbilt on the road for their SEC opener. They didn’t play Florida until their fifth game. They had already built up a little bit of confidence. They went into that game with some people questioning their 4-0 record. But they just absolutely dominated the line of scrimmage against Florida.”

What has gone right for Louisville?

“They’ve managed to play at least one really good half in just about every game, and that’s been enough to put them over the top. They’ve managed to hang on with the exception of that second quarter of their first game against Georgia Tech. It was such a bad quarter, but they were able to recover. Playing one half so far has been good enough for them.”

Which fanbase is more pleasantly surprised?

“I would say maybe Kentucky because Louisville with Jeff Brown coming back, the expectations were kind of through the roof already. He took over a team that won eight games last year. For Kentucky, I think based on the history of it and the fact they had lost so many games in a row. The last time they beat Florida three times in a row Bear Bryant was the coach.”

Editor’s note: Kentucky lost 31 straight vs. Florida before snapping the streak in 2018.

Despite being 5-0, both schools are underdogs. What does that tell you?

“It tells you that Vegas doesn’t believe in them just yet. And there are some questions that they’ll both have to overcome. Georgia’s won 22 straight games, and Notre Dame is Notre Dame. I don’t think that’s all that surprising. Louisville being at home obviously gives them a little better chance. Although, if you remember, Kentucky played Georgia pretty tough the last time they went Athens, and it was probably a better Georgia team.”

Kentucky and Louisville have benefitted from key transfers. How big of an impact has former Vanderbilt running back Ray Davis made?

“He won every National Player of the Week award. (Kentucky had) lost Chris Rodriguez Jr., one of the best running backs in the history of the school. (Davis) stepped right in and does some things differently, maybe some things better than Rodriguez. When you run for 280 yards against Florida—I don’t care whether Florida’s up or down—you’ve had a major impact.”

How much has former Purdue quarterback Jack Plummer helped Louisville?

“Plummer is a stabilizing force for Jeff Brohm and alleviated some of his concerns about teaching his offense because he could bring in a guy who knows his plays. There were times when anybody watching would think maybe it’s time to try somebody, especially in the first half, early third quarter of the Georgia Tech game. Maybe in the Indiana game a little bit. But every time he’s come back to show that there’s a reason why he’s the guy out there.”

Any predictions for both games?

“I think both are going to be closer than people think. Louisville will have the energy of the crowd. It’s kind of the perfect storm because it’s a 7:30 game on national TV. They’ll have a record crowd. (The Cardinals are) coming off the road win at N.C. State, and they’ve had an extra day to prepare. Notre Dame has had two tough weeks going down to the final play. I’m not saying (the Cardinals) are going to win, but I think they’ll be right there at the end of it. Kentucky? I don’t think they’ll win, but Georgia will know they were in the game.”

Switching gears, it was announced that the Kentucky vs. Indiana basketball series will finally resume in the 2025-26 season. Your thoughts?

“I’m happy to see it. It’s one of my favorite games to cover. I was at the last (regular-season meeting) they played (in 2011). Indiana fans have so many students who come to games. They bring in signs and yell at the players. That clearly had an effect on John Calipari because he hasn’t wanted to play them since then, except in the NCAA tournament. So, yeah, I’m glad it’s back. It’s one of those games that should be played every year.”

One more basketball question: How much pressure is on Kenny Payne and Louisville to show some progress after going 4-28 last season?

“There’s a lot of pressure because there are a lot of fans who are fed up. How many are going to renew their season tickets? A lot will be based on what they see on the court. Kenny’s got his own players in there now. He’s overhauled the roster, and we’re going to find out just how good they are. It’s been very quiet. We haven’t seen much. We’re going to get a taste of it next week with the first Red and White Scrimmage and a couple of exhibition games. The schedule’s not all that tough. It’s kind of a make-or-break year.”

About Michael Grant

Born in Jamaica. Grew up in New York City. Lives in Louisville, Ky. Sports writer. Not related to Ulysses S. Grant.