Saturday, February 25, 2023


University of Louisville News & Perspectives

Kentucky favored by three points over UofL in unfriendly rivalry game

Photo by Mike DeZarn

By Ed Peak

No love lost between these two schools, and the outcome is always unpredictable.

I’ve been fortunate to cover the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry since it was renewed in 1994. Thank goodness for former coaches, Louisville’s Howard Schnellenberger and Kentucky’s Bill Curry and athletic directors Bill Olson and C.M. Newton.

Kentucky needed a boost in attendance to renovate Commonwealth Stadium to 65,000 seats in 1994.  Schnellenberger would play anyone, anywhere. He just wanted to play. Capacity at the renamed Kroger Field has since been reduced 60,000 seats.

The first several years the game was in Lexington because of the size of the fairgrounds stadium. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was christened in 1998 and first year coach John L. Smith was helpless as Tim Couch and the Wildcats trounced Louisville 68-34. It was a hot day in Louisville. Couch was hotter. He still holds the opponents stadium record for most passing yards in a game with 498. Gosh, he put on a show.

Quarterback Chris Redman and UofL would return the favor in 1999, thrashing the Wildcats 56-28 on their home field in Lexington. The Cardinals would win the next two seasons as well.

Weather interrupted the game in 2000. UK missed a chip shot field goal attempt at the horn.  Tony Stallings touchdown run in overtime give the Cardinals a 40-34 victory.

Bobby Petrino coached the Cardinals to three dominating wins over Kentucky. In one memorable finish, the Cardinals took a knee deep in Kentucky territory instead of scoring a touchdown. Petrino added a bit of spice to the rivalry saying in his post game press conference. “I gave Kentucky what they wanted.”

Steve Krathorpe went 0-3 against Kentucky. The first one was particularly galling, a 40-34 come from behind win as Kentucky’s Stevie Johnson scored on a long pass play. Charlie Strong lost his first game against Kentucky before winning three straight.

Bobby Petrino 2.0 retuned and didn’t do as well going 2-2 against Kentucky. The 2014 game was a classic back and forth game with Louisville prevailing 44-40. Before the game coaches got into an argument on the Cardinal Stadium field and an altercation between teams broke out.

In 2017 Lamar Jackson played one of his best games as a Cardinal, leading Louisville to a 44-17 victory. A fight broke out on the field in the second quarter and a Kentucky player was ejected. Last season was all Kentucky winning 56-10.

This year both teams are bowl eligible. Louisville under first year coach Scott Satterfield (7-4) while Kentucky is (6-5). Kentucky will try to control the clock and run, run, run.  Lynn Bowden, Jr. a receiver turned quarterback brings an anemic passing game but is to stop on the ground.

UK is a three-point favorite but Louisville. That doesn’t mean much since underdogs have won many of the games and UofL has made a habit of winning in Lexington.

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Ed Peak

Ed Peak has covered UofL sports since 1973, as a student reporter, as a correspondent for the Courier-Journal, a freelancer for the Associated Press and United Press International, as well as ScoreCard, Fox Sports and CBS radio.