A Night To Remember: Louisville 31, Cincinnati 24
Louisville Accepts Bid To Russell Athletic Bowl
The final whistle had barely blown tonight before news broke that Louisville had accepted a bid to play in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
It's safe to say the folks at U of L were prepared for the news.
"Russell Athletic is thrilled that the Louisville Cardinals will complete their outstanding season by appearing in the Russell Athletic Bowl," said Gary Barfield, the senior vice president of Russell Athletic. "We are eager to find out on Sunday who Louisville will be facing in what is sure to be an exciting game."
Though we don't yet know who Louisville will be facing, we do know that the Cardinals will be squaring off against ACC opponent on Dec. 28 inside the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando. The game will kickoff at 6:45 p.m., which should be about 30 minutes after the end of the Louisville/Kentucky basketball game, which is set to tip-off inside Rupp Arena at 4 p.m.
I think we had all better start preparing our minds and our bodies for Cardmageddon right away, for it comes a mere 22 days from now.
TWEETCAP: Louisville 31, Cincinnati 24
Game Day: Louisville At Cincinnati
Ode To The Keg Of Nails
A rivalry week tradition...one last time.
You may have noticed this morning that the hair on your chest was a bit thicker, that your voice was a bit deeper and more intimidating, and that your 15-inch pythons have miraculously been upgraded to 16s. The reason, of course, is that this is the first day of the manliest of manly days in the Derby City, the day the Keg of Nails comes out of hiding and makes all other rivalry trophies sh-t their plaques.
I've never tried to hide it, I love the Keg of Nails. Officially, it's my fourth favorite keg, just behind keg of beer, keg of money and keg of Gorgui Dieng.
The keg will bear its burly mug for the 53rd time Thursday night when the 10-1 Louisville Cardinals and the 9-2 Cincinnati Bearcats battle for the right to hoist it in triumph for a solid 15 minutes, and then quickly put him back in his case because the dude's a bad ass and does not enjoy being touched.
According to Wikipedia, the trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails. The exchange between the two programs is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC and U of L campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were "tough as nails."
The present keg is actually a replacement for the original award, which was misplaced by Louisville, ironically lost during some construction of office facilities. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
Cincinnati players, excited and frightened by the sensation of touching the keg for the first time in nearly a decade, damaged it in 2008. According to Art Carmody, there are no actual nails (or anything) inside of it. He also ruined Santa Claus for me.
Unattributed facts: The keg changed the tide of World Wars I and II, brought Hemingway out of depression and inspired the cure for polio. It was once entirely consumed by Howard Schnellenberger.
Let's admit it, there was a time when we took having the Keg around for granted. We made jokes that were in poor taste in front of its friends, openly flirted with the Little Brown Jug, and used store-bought nails from Home Depot to hang up that picture of us with the Governor's Cup Trophy.
I think I speak for all of us when I say that we've changed. We've seen what extended life without the Keg of Nails is like and, quite frankly, it's miserable.
The folks in Cincinnati are calling this their biggest rivalry game ever and one of the biggest games in the history of Nippert Stadium. They're probably right, not just because of the conference title or bowl implications, but because we have no idea when the Keg is going to be up for grabs again...or if it ever will.
Keep the Keg. Forever.
Louisville Football And The Importance Of Finishing Strong
By Andrew Phelps
If you were magically transported back in time to the sweltering August summer, thrown into the fires of every single heated pre-season football debate, and proclaimed a prediction of Louisville football achieving a 10-1 record, but locked out of any hope of a BCS game, what would the reaction have been? People would have called you pessimistic and delusional, and your closest friends would have surely distanced themselves.
Yet, here we stand Cardinal fans, one game remains on the 2013 slate and our team is fighting for their lives to play in Orlando on December 28th. How could a season that began with so much promise and hype, end with such emptiness and honest disappointment? The team has appeared absentminded and uninspired in recent weeks, but a nationally televised rivalry game to cap off the year provides the team with an opportunity to seize a much needed and renewed sense of hunger and determination. 11-1 and ranked in the top 15 is nothing to hang one's head about, the sting of this season might linger for years to come, but our coaches, our seniors, and our hero under center have no choice but to finish strong.
Looking at the game scheduled for 7:30 Thursday night, the biggest cause for concern as of now is the weather. Even though our offense has been as effective and exciting as a senior citizen track and field competition, consistent rain and cold temperatures will negate the best and most talented aspect of our team, the Cardinal passing attack. If the rain pours, we will be forced to rely heavily on our run game, and since UofL is ranked 84th in rushing offense and Cincinnati ranks 4th in rushing defense, this recipe does not bode well for our Birds.
The offensive playbook has gotten smaller and smaller each game, and hit a real cause for concern against Memphis when even the drunkest fan on the party deck could predict each play the home team was running. If I could add something to my Christmas wish list it would be this, have some damn fun for four straight quarters and throw everything at the Bearcats including the kitchen sink. We are not playing for anything but 11-1 pride at this point, might as well loosen up the reigns a bit coaches. I want to see reverses, flea flickers, crossing routes, fake punts, fumblerooskis, and even the annexation of Puerto Rico. (If you did not understand this Little Giants reference, you have a mission before kickoff). There is no reason to leave anything on the field coaches, have some fun with the offense, go out with a bang, and even if we lose, if the offense performs, fans will feel better after Thursday's night than they have in every post game since the Florida International game.
The defense needs to merely keep doing what they do best. The Cardinals are number one in the nation in touchdowns allowed, and for all of the recent criticism of this team and coaching staff, that is a major accomplishment and proof in the pudding that Charlie Strong does know how to coach that side of the ball. With several seniors on the defensive side, a Cincinnati native in Preston Brown, a fresh-from-suspension Calvin Pryor, and the national sack leader Marcus Smith our defense should have no issue preventing the Bearcats from crossing the goal line. If we can hold Cincinnati to under 23 points, victory should be ours.
The Keg of Nails rivalry is underrated, uncharacteristically special, and a mainstay in Louisville lore. Kragthorpe and Cooper years aside, the Cardinals have owned the rivalry since 1988, winning 13 times to just five losses. This is certainly a game that needs to be played, the fans enjoy it, our players seem to love it, and it will always provide an opportunity for a quality win. Back in August, this game was supposed to determine the BCS bid for the American Athletic Conference. Now, Thursday night will merely provide one team with the chance of achieving 11 wins for only the fourth time in school history. 2013 did not go the way Cardinal Nation envisioned or planned, and it certainly will not end the way we imagined in our dreams, but 11-1 is knocking at our door. It is finally time for our beloved birds to seize an opportunity before them and finish strong.
All Hail UofL !!
In other news Auburn, if they win the SEC, deserves to play for the National Championship. First, they slayed the king. Alabama has won three of the last four titles, and the SEC has won seven straight. Currently, there are more ranked teams on UofL's schedule than Ohio State's. No one wants to watch Ohio State get slaughtered in another title game, and any team that gives up 35 to Illinois, 41 to Michigan, 34 to California and 30 to Northwestern will be manhandled by Jameis Winston. I graduated from South Carolina and I am a UofL and SEC homer. Go Cards and Go Cocks!
The Bearcat Redemption
The Keg of Nails is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever stays in Cincinnati.
The Cincinnati Bearcat came to the Big East in 2005 after a decade-long stretch in CUSA. That's Conference USA to you. League officials caught him sneaking the Keg of Nails out the back door of Nippert Stadium. Young punk. Mr. Rock and Roll. Cocky as hell.
The first years are the toughest, no doubt about it. They march you in naked as the day you were born in the Missouri Valley, skin burning and half blind from that sanction shit the NCAA throws on you, and when they put you in that league... and that schedule is set... that's when you know it's for real. A whole athletic program blown away in the blink of an eye. Nothing left but all the time in the world to think about it.
I wish I could tell you that Bearcat fought the good fight, and the rest of the teams let him be. I wish I could tell you that - but the Big East is no fairy-tale world. He never said who did it, but we all knew. Things went on like that for awhile - Big East life consists of routine, and then more routine. Every so often, Bearcat would show up with fresh losses. The rest of the league kept at him - sometimes he was able to fight 'em off, sometimes not. And that's how it went for Bearcat - that was his routine. I do believe those first three years were the worst for him, and I also believe that if things had gone on that way, this league would have got the best of him.
In 2008-09, Cincinnati Bearcat escaped from Big East prison. All they found of him was a muddy set of black feet, red double zero UC jersey, and a mascot head damn near wore down to the whiskers. I remember thinking it would take a team six hundred years to tunnel out of that hole into the BCS. Old Bearcat did it in less than five.
With just seven hours left until the most important Louisville/Cincinnati game perhaps ever, I find I'm so excited I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a Sugar Bowl champion can feel, a Sugar Bowl champion in the middle of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain.
I hope I can make it through the next seven hours. I hope to see my rival and kick his ass. I hope the Keg of Nails tastes as delicious as it has in my dreams.
Opponent Breakdown: Cincinnati Bearcats