Nothing like college football on a Saturday afternoon in the fall.
Which UofL fan will ever forget the inaugural game at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium on Sept. 5, 1998? The day Cardinal fans had been dreaming of for decades, having their own football stadium. Largely funded by business and fan donations, the new stadium sent a message that Louisville was committed to competing at the highest level.
Temperatures on the field were at least 105 degrees, and John L. Smith was making his debut at UofL, getting introduced to the UofL-UK rivalry. Kentucky would take full advantage of UofL that day 68-34, still looking for more points when the horn sounded. PJCS ran out of bottled water that day and dozens of fans treated for heat stroke. A miserable day for football.
With what some weather forecasters are describing as a “Godzilla El Nino” heating up out west, the upcoming fall season could be a wet one. UofL fans have been through many rough weather games and have learned how to prepare for them. UofL football actually has a good track record for rain games. Here are my top five rain games:
Sept. 26, 2002 –Florida State was in town, undefeated after four games and ranked fourth in the country. Accompanying the Seminoles were remnants of tropical storm Isidore and a wind-driven drizzle that never subsided. The crowd of 38,109 hung around until the end, rewarded by the unforgettable sight of Henry Miller spurting 25 yards for the game-winning touchdown on the second play in overtime for a 26-20 win. An equally vivid memory was the fans in a kaleidoscope of rain ponchos converging on the field, and the goal posts taking a victory lap around the field.
Sept. 2, 2000 — A memorable duel between quarterbacks Dave Ragone and Jared Lorenzen. UK held a 19-14 lead in the third quarter when a violent lightning storm erupted, sending fans at PJCS scrambling over seats and into the aisles for protection. The delay would last for an hour and twelve minutes. UofL would block a dead certain UK game winning field goal on the final play in regulation. Tony Stallings would rush 25 yards on the second play in overtime to give UofL a 40-34 win.
Nov. 27, 2004 — The downpour began shortly after Eric Shelton took a handoff from Stefan Lefors on the first play of the game and scampered 80 yards for a touchdown. The bitter-cold rain was constant as UofL continued to pile on the points en route to 70-7 rout of the Cincinnati Bearcats. Adding fuel to UofL’s fire that day was the fact that the Cincinnati players had jumped on the UofL logo at midfield prior to the game. One the rare games where this observer left before the end of the game (grandson in hand).
Sept. 29, 2012 — This game between UofL and Southern Mississippi was scary before so much water accumulated in various parts of the field, the rain continuing to fall throughout the game. The Hattiesburg field was waterlogged, with at least three inches of waters in some spots. UofL was 4-0 coming into the game, Southern Miss was 0-3, and the intensity was high, equalling earlier games in the rivalry. Teddy Bridgewater came into the game averaging 262.2 yards passing, but was held to 9-of-13 passing for 85 yards. Senorise Perry would score from 14 yards out with eight minutes to go, giving UofL a 21-17 win.
Dec. 28, 1993 — Not a fall game but Jeff Brohm was quarterbacking Louisville against Michigan State in the Liberty Bowl, with Howard Schnellenberger on the sidelines. Temperatures in the mid-20’s, with rain mixing with sleet. Thank goodness for battery-powered heated seat pads in that one. UofL trailed 7-3 going into the fourth quarter, emerging with a 18-7 win after Brohm’s 25-yard touchdown pass to Reggie Ferguson and a 14-yard touchdown run by Ralph Dawkins.
Nice rainy day memories, especially with UofL coming out on top.