This week’s showdown for the Keg of Nails (Friday, 8 p.m., ET, ESPN) will be the 52nd meeting all-time between Louisville and Cincinnati with the Bearcats holding a 29-21-1 advantage overall. UC has won four straight in the series, including a 25-16 victory at Paul Brown Stadium last season. The rivalry between the Cardinals and Bearcats dates back to 1922 and ranks as the most-played series in Louisville’s previous 93 seasons of football.
The winner of Friday’s game gets the Keg of Nails, one of the most unique rivalry trophies in college football. The traveling trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails and is enhanced with the logos of each school and the scores of the series games. The football rivalry between Louisville and Cincinnati has spanned three conference affiliations (Missouri Valley Conference, Conference USA, BIG EAST Conference). Prior to the Bearcats’ current four-game winning streak, Louisville won five straight from 2003 to 2007.
- Friday’s game marks the 17th consecutive season the two programs have met on the gridiron.
- Louisville has not defeated Cincinnati at home since earning a 23-17 victory in 2006.
- The Cardinals own a 4-3 all-time record over the Bearcats at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, but UC has a 13-10-1 record all-time against UofL in Louisville.
- Louisville has not defeated Cincinnati since the Cardinals upset the 15th-ranked Bearcats 28-24 at Nippert Stadium in 2007.
Notable Louisville-Cincinnati Results
- UC 25, UofL 16 – (10/15/2011 – Paul Brown Stadium): Isaiah Pead made two quick cutbacks and ran 50 yards for the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, rallying Cincinnati to a 25-16 victory over Louisville in the BIG EAST opener for both teams. The Bearcats overcame four fumbles, recovering all of them, and a costly interception thrown by Zach Collaros. Mike Evans returned an interception 63 yards for a touchdown to give Louisville a 16-7 lead with 6 seconds left in the half. Collaros ran 1 yard for a touchdown on a fourth-and-goal, and Pead scored for the sixth straight game, sending Louisville to its third straight loss. Pead had 151 yards on 20 carries against the BIG EAST’s top defense.
- UC 35, UofL 27 – (10/15/2010 – Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium): Zach Collaros threw a career-high five touchdown passes – three to Armon Binns – and Cincinnati overcame the loss of another receiver, beating Louisville 35-27 in its BIG EAST opener. Binns’ 62-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter decided a game of try-to-top-this plays. He also scored on catches of 47 and 10 yards in the best game of his career. Collaros was 18 of 28 for 275 yards with a pair of interceptions. Bilal Powell ran for a career-high 209 yards and two touchdowns for Louisville.
- UofL 28, UC 24 – (10/13/2007 – Nippert Stadium): Brian Brohm threw three touchdown passes and made a gutsy, game-turning 51-yard completion, rallying Louisville to a 28-24 victory over No. 15 Cincinnati. Brohm’s daring 51-yard completion to Harry Douglas set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, completing a comeback. Cincinnati led the nation in turnover margin, but got the worst of it. The Bearcats fumbled twice inside the Louisville 20-yard line, and one of the nation’s most porous defenses held them to a field goal after a first-and-goal from the 2-yard line in the fourth quarter.
- UofL 23, UC 17 – (10/14/2006 – Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium): Brian Brohm threw for 324 yards and a touchdown in his first game in nearly a month, but No. 7 Louisville had to hang on for a 23-17 victory over Cincinnati in the Cardinals’ BIG EAST opener. Brohm, back in the lineup after injuring his throwing hand in a win over Miami on Sept. 16, looked rusty at times as the nation’s top ranked offense struggled. Cincinnati held the Cardinals 21 points below their scoring average and had a chance for an upset in the final minutes. Dustin Grutza led Cincinnati to the Louisville 22-yard line with 9 seconds left, but his fourth-down pass to Earnest Jackson was broken up by Gavin Smart in the end zone to preserve the Cardinals’ 15th straight home win.
- UofL 70, UC 7 – (11/27/2004 – Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium): Montrell Jones caught two touchdown passes and returned a punt for a score, and No. 7 Louisville clinched its third Conference USA championship since 2000 with a 70-7 rout of Cincinnati. Brandon Johnson returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and Tiger Jones recovered another blocked punt in the end zone for Louisville, which reached 70 points for the first time since a 72-0 win over Wayne State in 1955. Eric Shelton rushed for 158 yards and Kolby Smith had three short touchdown runs.