Louisville-Memphis Football Grudge Match

Despite everything the universities have in common, or maybe because of it, these schools don’t like each other. Anything can happen when Louisville and Memphis get together in a football game.

Memphis fans have felt slighted since UofL left Conference USA in 2005 to join the Big East. The Cards could have joined the conference a year earlier had Memphis not held Louisville to a contractual agreement with C-USA.   Tiger fans are frustrated that UM appears to be stuck in that conference, with no viable options for the near future.

Louisville won the last time the two teams met in 2004 in what one Memphis blogger described as an epic struggle:

The Tiger-Cardinal game on November 4, 2004, remains the best Memphis football game of the decade. Oh heck, let’s say it: the best Memphis football game of the century.

Played on a Thursday night in front of a national-television audience, Memphis and Louisville combined for 105 points and — grab your seat — nine lead changes. The teams were led on offense by players who would share C-USA’s Offensive Player of the Year honors. Memphis tailback DeAngelo Williams carried the ball 26 times for 200 yards and scored on a 31-yard jaunt that gave the home team a 10-point lead early in the second quarter. Louisville quarterback Stefan LeFors passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns with nary an interception. Each team had a rusher and receiver surpass 100 yards. Memphis won the total-offense battle, 603 yards (you read that correctly) to 599, but Louisville, alas, had the ball at game’s end, LeFors converting a two-point conversion with 37 seconds on the clock to give the bad guys a 56-49 win.

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Memphis faced Steve Kragthorpe on two occasions when he was head coach at Tulsa, with Kragthorpe’s team winning both games –- 37-31 in overtime in 2005 and 35-14 in 2006.

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The Tigers are currently ranked 16th nationally in total offense, averaging 462.7 yards per game. Memphis is 12th in passing yardage with a total of 1,389 yards in the first six games.

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A few other classics worth mentioning in the Louisville-Memphis rivalry:

Nov. 22, 1969 – Louisville coach Lee Corso waved a white towel of surrender after Memphis increased its lead to 69-17. U of L won  three of the next four meetings before Corso departed for Indiana University in 1974, bitter at UofL for reasons he has kept to himself.

Nov. 28, 1972 – Three days before the game, the observer  mustered  the courage to ask Barbara if she liked football. She did and they attended on their first date. U of L won 17-0. Charlie won, too, walked down the aisle six months later in a marriage that this year surpassed 35 years.

Nov. 22, 1997 – Memphis nailed the lid on Ron Cooper’s coffin with a 21-20 win over the visiting Cards in the final game of the season. UofL had a 1-10 record in Cooper’s final season. Cooper gets a $1 million bonus when he is fired, easing the transition for all.

Oct. 26, 1999 – Chris Redman throws a pass to Lavelle Boyd in the end zone with seconds remaining to give UofL a 32-31 win at Memphis.  The locals to this day still claim Boyd trapped the ball.

Nov. 22, 2003 – Bobby Petrino’s reputation as an offensive genius is blemished after Memphis rolls to an easy 37-7 win at Papa John’s Cardinal stadium. Petrino’s expression never changes during the rout, or after any other game for that matter.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.

3 thoughts on “Louisville-Memphis Football Grudge Match

  • October 8, 2008 at 4:25 pm
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    Cards definitely need to go into the Liberty Bowl with a chip on their shoulder. After Cardinal Stadium, I’ve been to more college games in Memphis than anywhere else.

  • October 9, 2008 at 7:18 am
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    So the real question is would I be here today if Memphis State would have won that game in 1972?

  • October 9, 2008 at 7:47 am
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    Wow, what a question. The answer is yes because Charlie was not going to quit pursuing that young lady.

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