Louisville football poised for attendance records in 2019

A no-brainer really.

A bold prediction here as the schedule is announced for the 2019 University of Louisville football season, based on the combination of a new coach and one of the sport’s most hallowed programs.  

The opening game against the University of Notre Dame will set an all-time  attendance record for a football game in Louisville, attracting between 63,000 and 65,000 people to Cardinal Stadium. 

Even higher if Athletic Director Vince Tyra wants to fill every cavity in the stadium, which was expanded from 55,000 to 61,500 prior to last season.

The current record for a UofL home game was 55,642 on Sept. 16, 2016. The game was featured on ESPN’s Game Day. Louisville fans were attracted by a tenth-ranked Louisville versus second-ranked Florida State. No contest that day, with the Cardinals throttling the Seminoles 63-10.

Scott Satterfield’s first game as the new head coach signals a whole new beginning for UofL football, bringing with him a whole new staff, a fresh outlook and a commitment from the University to compete at the highest levels. 

Notre Dame, of course, has one of the largest fan bases in the country and attracts capacity crowds wherever it plays. Always has, probably always will.

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If Louisville football is on the uptick under the new staff next season, expect another capacity crowd to be on hand on Saturday, Oct. 19 for a game against Clemson, the defending national champion, with Heisman Trophy candidate Trevor Lawrence.

Clemson has played in Cardinal Stadium twice since UofL joined the Atlantic Coast Conference in 2014, attracting 55,396 and 55,588 during the 2015 and 2017 seasons, respectively.

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UofL fans will also help Western Kentucky establish a new all-time attendance record at Houchens-Smith Stadium in Bowling Green. That is if WKU officials can somehow increase the stadium’s capacity for the game against Louisville on Sept. 14.

Louisville owns a 20-12 advantage in the series. The current WKY record is 23,674 for a game against Vanderbilt on Sept. 24, 2016. One can easily anticipate at that many UofL fans making the two-hour trip for this year’s game on Sept. 14.

UofL hasn’t played a football game in Bowling Green since 1949.

 2019 Schedule:

Sept. 2 — Notre Dame

Sept. 7 — Eastern Kentucky

Sept. 14 — At Western Kentucky

Sept. 21 — At Florida State

Oct. 5 — Boston College

Oct. 12 — At Wake Forest

Oct. 19 — Clemson

Oct. 26 — Virginia

Nov. 9 — At Miami

Nov. 16 — At North Carolina State

Nov. 23 — Syracuse

Nov. 30 — At Kentucky



Western Kentucky highly motivated for Louisville

One constant over the years, with the University of Louisville going in and out of seven different conferences, has been the presence of Western Kentucky University on the basketball schedule. They’ve met 77 times since the series began in 1926.

If fans should have learned anything over that span, it would be never to take Western Kentucky lightly. Despite the fact Louisville has won 22 of the last 25 games, WKU still owns a 39-38 edge in the series,

Back during the 1955-56 season, one of Peck Hickman’s best teams ever went to Bowling Green with a sparkling 8-0 record. Ed Diddle was coaching Western at the time, waving that red towel of his, and would hand Louisville an ignominious 88-77 defeat. Hickman’s team would lose only two more games that season en route to a National Invitation Tournament championship.

A 68-65 loss to Western in 2000 may have been one of many cumulative factors that sealed Denny Crum’s fate at UofL.  His team lost six of its first nine games that season en route to 12-19 record, UofL’s first losing season in more than 40 years.

Coach Rick Pitino sure isn’t overlooking Western, warning that his team would lose to WKU if they play the way they did against UNC Wilmington. The last time a UofL team took Western lightly was on a lazy Sunday in December 2008 when WKU handed Louisville a 68-54 defeat at Freedom Hall.

This year’s game at Bowling Green is the first game on an opponent’s home court, and WKU will be highly motivated. The Hilltoppers, with a 5-4 won-lost record, have won three of their last four games and may be getting their act together at the right time.

Ray Harper is in his fourth season as head coach, having guided the Hilltoppers to two consecutive winning seasons. He joined WKU after guiding Kentucky Wesleyan College to four NCAA Division II national championships and five national coach of the year awards.

Harper is a blue collar coach, one with a great deal of success, one who knows what this series means to Western Kentucky fans. Diddle Arena will be a hostile environment, and Bowling Green is a place where UofL teams have been humbled more times than any long-time UofL fan would like to admit.

Allergy relief — and a UofL win — at Jim Patterson

Pastels prevail at Jim Patterson (Click to Enlarge).
Pastels prevailed Tuesday at Jim Patterson (Click to Enlarge).

Jim Patterson Stadium has always provided the perfect setting for watching University of Louisville baseball, along with a lot of wins and a growing tradition over the years.

The observer discovered another reason to be there Tuesday, following a week of a non-stop fight with the enormous army of pollens that make the Louisville area the worst among American cities for allergy problems.

You see, at Jim Patterson, there are no blooming trees, no flowering plants, no freshly mowed grass or blowing dandelion seeds. Just beautiful synthetic turf as far as the eye can see.

No sneezing, no itchy nose, no deep-throated coughing — at least for three hours at Third and Central. What a relief.

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Also a great day at the ballpark for Josh Rogers, a left handed freshman pitcher from New Albany, who won his first game at Louisville in a 3-1 win over Western Kentucky University.

Josh Rogers
Josh Rogers

Rogers, it should be noted, was selected by Dan McDonnell as the starter in both games against the University of Kentucky this season — the losing pitcher in both games.

McDonnell knowing Rogers has great potential, continuing to develop the freshman.

Rogers would go seven innings Tuesday, rare for a college pitcher these days, while allowing up three hits and striking out five batters.

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UofL faces Morehead State at 6 p.m. Wednesday if you need a respite from nature’s toxins.

Minimal drama as Louisville outpaces WKU

Another chapter in the long-time University of Louisville-Western Kentucky series was written Saturday, but the drama lasted only until the intermission. Little doubt about how this installment would end, with UofL emerging on top, 79-63.

Western arriving on a slow bus, hoping to keep the game at a snail’s pace, milking the clock at every opportunity, bearing little resemblance to the run-and-gun Hilltoppers of the past. The visitors really didn’t have much choice, with UofL challenging every dribble, pass and shot. WKU still managed to achieve a 28-25 lead with 2:14 remaining in the first half.

That was before Russ Smith discovered that Wayne Blackshear was working without the ball, getting open, wanting the ball in his hands. Blackshear would connect on two consecutive three-pointers and UofL would take a 31-28 lead into the dressing room.

As the second half got under way, Blackshear would return the favor, steal the ball, find Russ Smith rushing to other end,  pushing the margin to five and WKU would never seriously threaten again.

  • Smith was looking more for teammates than shots this game, streaking down the lane, passing on the circus shots. He would still launch 16 attempts, making six of them while totaling 14 points. What was making Rick Pitino jubilant, however, was that Smith was credited with 10 assists.
  • Blackshear getting the message from Pitino, becoming more assertive, making himself available, collecting 12 points while pulling down two rebounds and a couple of steals. Maybe, just maybe, he’s ready to assume a leadership role (I know we’ve said that before).
  • Mangok Mathiang, meanwhile, was becoming more aggressive in attacking the basket, making good on five of five attempts for his 10 points. Less timid on the boards, pulling down four rebounds, was credited with a block. Slowly but surely making progress.
  • Tim Henderson, better known as “Wichita” to an uncle for those legendary shots in the NCAA last season, filling in as a reserve for injured Chris Jones, getting 22 minutes of playing time. Good numbers, too, four of six behind the arc for his 12 points, four assists and a steal. Just the latest example of Pitino’s long-term development process.
  • Montrezl Harrell will be remembered in this game for another of those monster dunks. But he would see only limited action, getting into early foul trouble and only 18 minutes of playing time.
  • Chane Behanan becoming more of a fixture, returning to form, using that big body more effectively these days, adding 11 points, seven rebounds and even a couple of assists. Stay focused, Chane, good things will continue to happen.
  • Terry Rozier , in a starting role again, mixing in on the boards, loving it, pulling down 10 rebounds to go with his four points.
  • Kevin Ware, alas, 24 seconds of playing time, but remembered for the turnover as he was doing the patented six seconds to halftime thing.
  • Luke Hancock wanting to convince himself and everybody else that the Achilles injury isn’t bothering him. He’s not limping or showing any signs but it’s slowing him down. Still made his only three-point attempt for his three points in 17 minutes of playing time.

The teams have played 77 times since 1926, with Western Kentucky owning a 39-38 edge in the series.

Louisville gets better in easy win over Western Kentucky

Games against Western Kentucky often provide a measure of how far along a University of Louisville basketball team has advanced during the pre-conference portion of the schedule. However, a 78-55 win over WKU without its two top scorers is not a good indication of much of anything meaningful.

Not normally anyway. But there were definitely some things to get excited about in this game.

Wayne Blackshear
Wayne Blackshear
  • Fans wanting to see Montrezl Harrell and Chane Behanan on the floor together got their wish. Harrell taking up the slack for the missing Gorgui Dieng, making the best of the extra playing time, not letting the elbow in the nose in the first half slow him down. Pulling down six rebounds, four blocks and 13 points.Behanan making those turn-around jumpers early, collecting seven rebounds and 14 points.
  • Wayne Blackshear is getting there, maybe there already in fact, going up with confidence, knowing he’s going to hit his shots, using his quickness well on both ends of the court. Blackshear going to the backboards, too, claiming possession on eight missed shots.
  • Kevin Ware, yes, he’s coming along, too, shaking off the uncertainty, the awkwardness, finding the basket, looking better than ever, making three of his four shots for six shots. But it’s those long arms on defense that are opening up more playing time for him.
  • Russ Smith may still be feeling some effects of that ankle turn in the game against Memphis but one wouldn’t know it. He led his team with 20 points but was four of 11 from the floor. That steal, the mad rush down court, and the slam dunk with 1:43 remaining making a lot of highlight videos.