The Most Memorable Kentucky Versus Louisville Football Games
This month we have talked about rivalries here at Last Word On College Football. The Battle for the Governor’s Cup is one of the best in the country. Since the Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals resumed playing each other in 1994 there have been many great games. Which ones are the best? That’s what we are going to answer with The Most Memorable Kentucky Versus Louisville Football Games. But first, a little history lesson on the two teams separated by only 78 miles.
The Battle For The Governor’s Cup
The Cats and Cards first met on the gridiron way back in 1912. The two schools played six times between 1912 and 1924 with Kentucky winning them all. Not only did Kentucky shut out Louisville in every contest, but the combined scores were 220-0 and included a 73-0 win in 1922.
Following the 1924 season the series was discontinued for 70 years. In the early 1990s, then-Cardinal coach and former Cat Howard Schnellenberger spearheaded an effort to revive the series. Finally the two teams met again on the field in 1994. The 2018 meeting will be the 25th straight contest since 1994. The all-time series is tied at 15 wins apiece, however, the Cards lead 15-9 since the rivalry was renewed.
Now with the history lesson complete let’s begin the countdown of The Most Memorable Kentucky Versus Louisville Football Games.
5. Mother Nature Wreaks Havoc, September 2nd, 2000
Coming in at fifth on the list is the only overtime game in the series. Behind Jared Lorenzen Kentucky jumped out to a 19-14 lead in the third quarter. Notably, the game was stopped for 72 minutes due to lightning.
Following the delay things got wild in the fourth quarter. On the last play of the game Kentucky lined up for a chip shot field goal. Unfortunately for the Cats the kick was blocked and the game went into overtime.
Most notably he lashed out at Louisville complaining about having to play a team “who lives to beat us.” He added that “by Monday we would already be over this game.” Mumme would be let go after a 2-9 season and the Cats ended up on NCAA probation.
4. The Rivalry Renewed, September 3, 1994
As much excitement as there is for the annual Battle For The Governor’s Cup now, it was at a fever pitch 24 years ago. The story goes that tickets for the inaugural game were so hard to come by that as a UK alum Schnellenberger had to buy 10 sets of UK season tickets just so his family could watch the game.
As for the contest itself the Cats won in dramatic fashion as quarterback Antonio O’Ferral scored on a draw late in the fourth quarter. Linebacker Donte’ Key set up the winning score with a fumble recovery. Key sealed the 20-14 win with an interception of UL quarterback Marty Lowe.
Emotions ran high for this contest and Cats coach Bill Curry presented the game ball to the family of Trent DiGiuro. The lineman had been murdered less than two months earlier.
Unfortunately for Kentucky the win over Louisville was the lone highlight of the season. The Cats dropped the final 10 games to finish at 1-10.
3. Total Offensive Domination, September 5, 1998
The first four games in the modern rivalry were all played in Lexington. Louisville finally got a chance to host with the unveiling of Papa John’s Stadium in the 1998 opener. The visiting Kentucky quarterback Tim Couch and the “Air Raid” offense spoiled the party with a record setting effort.
In near-100 degree weather the Wildcat offense was nearly as hot. Couch threw for 498 yards as part of a school record 801 yards leading the Cats to a 68-34 victory. Additionally, Kentucky set a record for most passing yards in a game with 571 and tied a record with eight passing touchdowns. The 801 yards are the most given up by UL in program history.
Kentucky finished the 1998 season with a 7-5 record making it to the Outback Bowl where they lost 26-14 to Penn State. It was the first New Year’s Day bowl for the school since the 1952 Cotton Bowl.
Time for the top two. While most True Blue Fans agree on the games, the order is a major topic of discussion.
2. Four Touchdown Underdog, November 26, 2016
Heading into the season ending game against the Cards Kentucky had lost five straight to their rival. With eventual Heisman trophy winner Lamar Jackson under center the Wildcats were staring at a sixth straight loss.
No one told Stephen Johnson that, though. Johnson had his best day at Kentucky throwing for 338 yards and three touchdowns and led the Cats to an improbable 41-38 victory. Receiver Garrett Johnson had a career day with 164 receiving yards and two scores.
Jackson threw for 287 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 171 yards and two more scores. However, he had four turnovers (three interceptions and a fumble). Following Jackson’s late fourth quarter fumble, the Cats drove down the field and won the game on Austin Macginnis’ 47 yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining.
1. “Stevie Got Loose”, September 15, 2007
There is only one game that could possibly top the 2016 game. In the greatest game of the Governor’s Cup series the Cats jumped out to an early 19-7 lead. However, the Cards came storming back to take a 34-33 lead with 1:45 to go.
Wildcat quarterback Andre Woodson began marching the team down the field and when he hit tight end Jacob Tamme on a fourth and one the Cats were looking good. It was not to be, however, as a personal foul call moved the ball back to the Louisville 43.
On the next play Woodson hit Stevie Johnson with a 57 yard touchdown to give the Cats not only the win but a legendary call by the “Voice Of The Wildcats” Tom Leach.
Thanks for reliving The Most Memorable Kentucky Versus Louisville Football Games here at Last Word On College Football. Is there a game you think that should have made the list drop a line in the comments section or tweet me at Kevin McGuffey.
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