The Keg of Nails is a beautiful work of art. Look at the picture above. The series has gone from a rivalry where double digits margins were common place to one of the hottest rivalries in the nation. That might be a tad bit of hyperbole but that is needed in rivalry games. 6 of the last 7 Keg of Nails games have been decided by single digits. It has made for an infusion of great games. The rise of the programs to top 25 rankings on a consistent basis has only made the rivalry hotter. This game helped decide who went to the BCS last year. With all due respect to UCF-Louisville, this is the marquee game in the American Conference this season. Let's take a look back at the 10 most memorable Keg of Nails games. Since I wasn't alive for nearly half of the series, there is a significant recency bias. Let's hope that the series doesn't end for good.
Honorable Mention: Cincinnati 10 Louisville 7. October 26, 1996.
This game was nothing memorable about in action as the score indicates. It has it's historical significance. This was the renewal of the series due to both schools joining Conference USA. UC and Louisville played every year from 1966 to 1992, then stopped for Great Midwest/Metro Conference splitting I'm going to assume. They have played every year since, thus putting the Keg of Nails to work. The Lord's work.
Honorable Mention: Louisville 62 Cincinnati 19. October 3, 1998.
This game is on here for the wrong memorable reasons because it was one of the worst games in UC history. Cincinnati gave up a school record 742 yards, 460 of which were passing. That was also a school record. Chris Redman set the Louisville record with 431 yards passing. This was the worst loss for UC since the 81-0 Penn State debacle. This game occurred in the first losing season UC had under Rick Minter. UC was really awful in 1998, they didn't get a win until the last 2 games of the season.
Honorable mention: Louisville 28 Cincinnati 13. October 27, 2001
This game is memorable to me because I was there, so it makes the list. My whole family was there in fact. Since my parents and brother were born in Louisville, they were rooting for the Cards even though my parents paid tuition at UC. I am the only member of my family not born in Louisville. True story. Cool story. Coolest story.
The Bearcats had won 4 C-USA games in a row coming into the game with fellow C-USA undefeated Louisville. The Cards jumped out 14-0 with a pair of short TD runs by Tony Stallings and Dave Ragone. Cincinnati chipped back in the game with a pair of Jonathan Ruffin field goals from 26 and 43 wrapped around a 71 yard bomb from Gino Guidugli to Jon Oligner. TJ Patterson, who ran for a game high 136 yards, broke 23 yards off on a TD scamper following a Guidugli INT. Ragone threw a 5 yard TD pass in the 4th quarter to put things on ice.
This was from the period of UC history where they were so close, but yet so far away. The program was so close to breaking to the next level, but couldn't get out of their own way. That was the main problem of the Minter era. Cincinnati had a crack to tie the score but a very questionable holding call erased that. This was not the best of games for the offenses. Gino Guidugli was 19-46 for 296 yards with 1 TD and 3 INTs. Ragone was 12-28, 154 yards for Louisville. Cincinnati was held to just 78 yards rushing. The Bearcats had 3 INTs and lost a fumble while Louisville lost a pair of fumbles. All the pressure of the King Bowl got to them.
UC packed the house with 31,004 (the 4 was my family), which was the 4th largest crowd in Nippert at the time. This one made the list until I realized it was an 11 game list. That's why an honorable mention has a full write up.
10) Louisville 23 Cincinnati 17. October 14, 2006
Cincinnati was a big underdog heading into this game against the 5-0 Cardinals, who were returning quarterback Brian Brohm from a thumb injury. The Bearcats defense was up for the challenge against the high powered Bobby Petrino offense. The Cats stopped Louisville on downs, then marched down the field for a 23 yard Kevin Lovell field goal. The defense stripped George Stripling at the UofL 22, but UC came up empty on a 37 yard attempt. That would turn out to be big.
Louisville got on the board with an Art Carmody 32 yard field goal. Cincinnati answered right back by pounding the Cards with a 78 yard drive that took nearly 8 minutes. The drive ended with Dustin Grutza hitting Brent Celek for an 8 yard score. After another Carmody field goal to make it 10-6, Louisville took advantage of a UC error when Dustin Grutza fumbled at midfield. Brohm completed 5 passes on the drive, the last being a 1 yarder to Gary Barnidge. Louisville went up 10 in the second half with a 17 yard run by Anthony Allen that followed a 59 yard pass to Barnidge. Lovell missed a 47 yard field goal, but Kevin McCullough picked off Brohm. UC was forced to punt. Carmody hit a 3rd field goal to make it 23-10.
Cincinnati would rally. Grutza hit Celek for 20, ran for 28 and hit Derrick Stewart for an 18 yard TD. The defense forced a Louisville punt with 2:38 left. Grutza used his arm and his legs to get UC from the 18 to the Louisville 16. 4 cracks at the end zone came up short and so did Cincinnati.
The Bearcats strategy was to run the ball. Run they did. 52 times for 212 yards. They played ball control to the tune of nearly 37 minutes of possession. Cincinnati would rally back after the loss, only losing 1 game the rest of the way. Mark Dantonio left after this season, becoming the only coach in Cincinnati recent history to not beat Louisville.
9) Cincinnati 41 Louisville 10. October 24, 2009.
Cincinnati steam rolled Louisville on their way to an undefeated regular season. The Bearcats used this beat down to get their record to 7-0 for the first time since 1954. This game is memorable enough just for that fact alone. 35,099 packed Nippert, the largest crowd at the time. It is the biggest Cincinnati margin over Louisville since 1951.
It's memorable for other reasons. The first being that this was the first game started by Zach Collaros after Tony Pike went down against USF. Collaros started the best way possible, hitting 5 passes before handing to Isaiah Pead for a 1 yard TD plunge. Louisville went 3 and out, Collaros went back down the field. This time he hit Armon Binns for 29, had back to back 12 yard rushes then hit Binns for a 24 yard TD. Collaros hit Pead for a 15 yard TD early in the second quarter to make it 21-0. Louisville had an 8 minute drive to get on the board with a TD pass from Adam Froman to Cincinnati born Josh Chichester.
Ryan Payne started the half with a 36 yard field goal for the Cards and that's where their fun ended. Jake Rogers responded with a 25 yard kick. Derek Wolfe had a sack to push Louisville back to the 17, which was important because the subsequent punt went 14 yards. Collaros hit Mardy Gilyard for a 31 yard score, Zach's 3rd of the game. UC wasn't done with the big plays. On their next possession, Pead took off on a 67 yard TD run, his 3rd TD of the game. Jake Rogers added a 45 yard field goal to end the scoring.
Cincinnati hung up 468 yards on the Louisville defense. Collaros was 15-17 for 253 yards and 3 TDs, chipping in 52 yards rushing. Brendon Kay played in that game and was 1-1 for 8 yards. Pead ran for 88 yards and 2 TDs on just 6 carries, along with 14 receiving yards and a TD. Gilyard had 82 yards and a score, Binns 75 yards and a score. Walter Stewart picked off a pass for UC. Good times.
8) Cincinnati 25 Louisville 16. October 15, 2011
The 2011 meeting of the Keg of Nails wasn't the most exciting of games. It makes the list solely for the fact it's the last time that Cincinnati defeated Louisville. They had to work for it though. The Cards moved down the field on a 5 minute, 55 yard drive that ended with a 42 yard field goal for Chris Philpott. Cincinnati had a punt blocked, which was famously the only picture anyone took of Pat O'Donnell and the reason he transferred to Miami (it is not the reason he transferred to Miami).
Philpott, who had made 2 field goals period coming into the game, drilled a 51 yard kick to put Louisville up 6-0. UC was very sloppy, and very fortunate, as they fumbled 4 times in the game, but lost none of them. One of the fumbles was by DJ Woods on a punt return. Woods made good on the heart attack by hauling in a 26 yard TD pass from Zach Collaros to make it 7-6. UofL answered right back thanks to a 58 yard pass by Teddy Bridgewater to Eli Rogers that set up an 18 yard Philpott field goal. Louisville went into halftime up 16-7 after Collaros threw a pick right at Mike Evans for a 63 yard INT TD.
Cincinnati's defense stepped up in the second half. Dominique Battle picked off a Bridgewater pass to start the half. UC didn't score off the pick, but it set the pace. Collaros would hit Anthony McClung for 34, and run for 15 to set up a Collaros 1 yard TD on 4th down. Louisville self combusted at the absolute wrong time for them, which was the right time for Cincinnati. After moving to the 33, the Cards had an illegal shift, a holding penalty, a false start, loss of 1, false start and a loss of 2. The 3-38 play didn't work. Philpott's punt only went 32 yards, where it was fumbled again by Woods. That set up the play of the game, Isaiah Pead taking a handoff up the middle for 50 yards. Collaros hit Adrien Robinson for a 2 point play to put UC up 22-16.
Louisville's last drive started with 7 minutes left at their 15. Bridgewater hit a series of short passes, along with a 9 yard run, to get to the Louisville 46. Derek Wolfe and Brandon Mills teamed up for a huge sack to knock the Cards back. Facing 4-3, Bridgewater's pass was incomplete. With the ball at the 44, Pead essentially iced the game with runs of 21 and 12. Tony Miliano was able to hit a 21 yard chip shot to give us the rare 25-16 final. It was only the third time in the series a team scored 16 points, all lost, and the second a team scored 25, both won.
Isaiah Pead ran for a game high 151 yards on 20 carries. What's more memorable is what he did after the game:
7) Louisville 28 Cincinnati 24. October 13, 2007.
In the 2009 recap I mentioned how that was the best start Cincinnati got off to since 1954. That start could have been matched 2 years earlier. Cincinnati was 6-0, ranked 15th in the country when 3-3 Louisville came into town on a Saturday night. Louisville was a major disappointment having lost to Kentucky and more impressively to a Syracuse team in what was the highest point spread loss ever at the time. Syracuse was a 37 point underdog in that game. Plus, Brian Kelly vs Steve Kragthrope. On paper this looked like a huge Cincinnati advantage. That's why games aren't played on paper.
UC took the opening kick and marched right down the field. Butler Benton burst off a huge 25 yard run to the Louisville 9 but Jon Russell forced a fumble. UC had better success on their second drive. Benton had back to back 7 yard runs, Dominick Goodman caught passes of 6 and 7, as UC worked to the Card 24. That's when Ben Mauk threw one up that Goodman snagged for a TD. UC was hit for a personal foul, which played a huge role in the Cards tying the score. The kick was returned to the 48. A pass to Harry Douglas got UofL to the 9. Brock Bolen ran for 4 then caught a 5 yard pass from Brian Brohm to even it up.
Louisville helped Cincinnati retake the lead. Goodman hauled in a 17 yard pass which was supplemented with a personal foul. Louisville was hit with another personal foul the next play. After an 8 yard run, the Cards were called for a 10 yard holding penalty. Mauk hit Bones Barnett for a 5 yard TD strike to cap things. A 32 yard punt by Kevin Huber from the 10 set Louisville up in prime shape before the first half ended. Brohm hit 4 of 5 passes to get UofL to the 5. Following a 1 yard run, Brohm hit Patrick Carter for a 4 yard score.
The Cards had the first scoring opportunity of the second half, but Arthur Carmody was no good from 44. Mauk picked apart the Card defense with passes of 12, 9, 15 and 9 before throwing a 17 yard TD to Bones Barnett on 3-3. UC was back in front for a short time. Trent Guy broke off a 22 yard run followed by a 42 yard connection between Brohm and Scott Long. Brohm completed a 3rd down pass of his own in the red zone, hitting Carter again for an 8 yard strike. Mauk got UC to the UofL 24 before Barnett fumbled on a run play to turn the ball over at the Louisville 18.
A huge play occurred with around 11:30 left. UC went for it on 4-1 at the 46. Mauk was stuffed. Next play, Brohm hits Douglas for a 51 yard pass play. Anthony Allen cashed in a 3 yard TD to make it 28-21. Mauk hit Gilyard for 15, Barnett for 23 and 34 to get down to the 2. An incompletion, no gain, false start and another incompletion had the Cats settling for 3. UofL ran clock while keeping UC's offense on the bench. With the ball at the UC 4, the Cats stopped an Allen run for a loss, stopped Allen at the 1 and stopped Brohm twice to set up one more chance. Mauk would be picked by Woodny Turenne to end the game though.
Brohm was 28-38 for 350 yards and 3 TDs. Harry Douglas had 7-118, Patrick Carter 5-59-2 TDs. For UC, Mauk was 26-45, 324 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT. Dominick Goodman had 11 catches for 141 yards and a TD. Barnett had 5-83-2 TDs. The two red zone turnovers were incredibly costly in this disappointing Bearcat loss.
6) Cincinnati 28 Louisville 20. November 14, 2008.
This edition of the Keg of Nails followed Cincinnati's huge win at West Virginia. The Friday night was rain heavy but that did not stop Tony Pike from leading UC on a 73 yard opening drive. A drive that was ended with a screen to Mardy Gilyard, who spun, broke tackles and did as only Mardy could for a 48 yard score. After the Cats were stuffed on a Pike sneak from their own 29, Hunter Cantwell led a 6 minute, 11 play drive that ended in a 2 yard TD to James Bryant. Yes, a 28 yard drive lasted 6 minutes. How? Let me tell you.
- 7 yard loss
- 16 yard pass
- 4 yard loss
- Pass interference
- 1 yard run
- 6 yard run
- 4 yard pass
- 2 yard loss
- Defensive holding
- 2 yard run
- 2 yard run
- 2 yard pass
You don't see that often. The Cards followed up with a 23 yard field goal by Ryan Payne after their drive stalled after reaching the UC 13. After 2 near fumbles on their first scoring drive, Brandon Underwood fell on a Card fumble at the UC 36. Jacob Ramsey had runs of 18 and 13 mixed with 14 and 11 yard receptions from Ben Guidugli to set up a 1 yard Ramsey run to put the Cats ahead 14-10. Louisville got it right back thanks to a 37 yard run by Victor Anderson, a pass interference and a 3 yard TD by Anderson. Cincinnati had a chance to tie before the half, but Jake Rogers was no good from 34.
A fumble by Ramsey set Louisville up at the UC 9 early in the 3rd quarter. UofL went 3 and out, having to settle for a 23 yard field goal that made it 20-14. Obviously that would be a turning point. But not immediately because the next UC drive ended when Rogers missed a 39 yard field goal. Torry Cornett had a huge sack that moved Louisville back to the 10. A 40 yard run was returned 18 yards by DeAngelo Smith. It took 2 plays for Dominick Goodman to haul in a 23 yard pass to put UC ahead. Mike Mickens picked off a Cantwell pass and returned it to the UofL 24. Just like Louisville earlier, Cincinnati failed to capitalize when Tony Pike's 4th down pass fell incomplete.
The 4th quarter started with UC driving. Facing 3-7, Pike was picked by Woodny Turenne at the 49. Louisville got down to the 15 before a holding penalty pushed them back. The Cards had to settle for another field goal from 45 yards out. As you can tell by the final, it missed. Dustin Grutza entered the game for the injured Tony Pike. Following a 5 yard run by John Goebel, Grutza hit Goodman for 24 yards. Goebel took it from there. John broke a 37 yard run and a 6 yard run that resulted in a TD to make it 28-20.
Louisville had a couple of chances to get back in it. Cincinnati stopped a 4th down run by Cantwell at the UofL 35. But the Cats couldn't ice the game as Rogers missed from 43, his third miss of the game. Cantwell threw 4 straight incompletions however, and UC won.
Tony Pike was 19-33 for 250 yards, 2 TDs, 1 INT. Dominick Goodman had 9 grabs for 134 yards and a TD, Goodie liked playing against Louisville, Gilyard had 5-73-1 TD. Goebel rushed for 77 yards and a score, while Ramsey had 48 yards and a score. This game broke up a 5 game winning streak for Louisville. It was only the second time UC had won the Keg since 1998. This game kicked off a 4 game Keg winning streak. It also helped UC get to their first BCS game and win their first Big East championship.
5) Cincinnati 24 Louisville 14. November 7, 2002.
The only thing stopping Louisville from beating Cincinnati 9 times in a row were these Bearcats. This was another disappointing Louisville team with very high expectations and a Heisman touted quarterback. This one worked out better for UC.
It wasn't an easy win though. Gino Guidugli started the game off 0-9. Louisville got on the board first with a 9 play, 75 yard drive that started with Henry Miller runs of 8, 5 and 11, with a Damien Dorsey pass to JR Russell for 15 and a Dave Ragone pass to Joshua Tinch for 25 before Miller ran for 3, 1 and a 4 yard TD to close things out. Louisville was ready to go up 14-0 having marched to the UC 14. DeMar Billings had other ideas, sacking and stripping Ragone so Trent Cole could recover. Cole got a sack on the next threatening Card drive. Louisville had to go for it on 4-2 at the UC 33 as a result. They failed.
UC's first half drives were punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, knee. The second started with the ball at the Louisville 36 after the Cards had a kickoff blunder and a 31 yard punt. The Cats got to the 17. On 4-2, Joe Wolke was stuffed causing UC to turn it over on downs. The Cat defense had enough of that. Andre Frazier sacked Ragone, Antwan Peek picked up the ball, running for a 15 yard TD to tie the score. The jubilation was short lived. Broderick Clark took the kick 92 yards for a TD to put Louisville back in front 14-7.
After yet another punt, the UC offense finally came to life. Following Richard Hall runs of 7 and 5, Guidugli hit Tye Keith for 14 to the Louisville 24. He would hit Demarco McCleskey for a 28 yard pass to the 1 after some bad plays. It took two tries but Demarco would punch in the tying score. The Bearcats ended the third quarter/started the fourth moving the ball again. Gino hit Jon Olinger for 36 yards to the UofL 32. On 3-5, Guidugli hit AJ Lucius for 22. It took McCleskey 3 chances to punch it in from the 5 but he did it for the game winning score.
The teams traded punts before UC would ice it. A 26 yard punt by Nate Smith started UC at the Card 49. Hall ran for 3 and 7, McCleskey for 3, Gino for 7, McCleskey for 5 and 2. Louisville even helped Cincinnati convert a 3-3 by going offsides. The Cats stalled from there, but they made UofL call 2 timeouts. Jonathan Ruffin nailed a 29 kick to make it 24-14.
Gino Guidugli was only 9-23 for 120 yards. He was 2-13 in the first half. Demarco McCleskey ran 26 times for 84 yards and 2 scores. He was also the leading receiver with 3 catches for 35 yards. The Bearcat defense held Dave Ragone to 11-31 passing for just 91 yards. They sacked him 4 times. Louisville managed 176 yards of total offense. Jamar Enzor had 16 tackles, Andre Frazier 12, Trent Cole had 10, 4 tackles for loss and DeMarco Billings had 10 tackles as well. Andre Frazier had 1.5 sacks, Cole and Billings 1 and Enzor shared one. This was probably the most dominant defensive effort in the series by Cincinnati.
4) Louisville 34 Cincinnati 31 – OT October 26, 2012
This game is memorable for quite a few reasons. First off, it was the one that just happened. It was the first overtime meeting in the history of the series. Munchie Legaux famously said he was better than Teddy Bridgewater. It gave us the famous Butch Jones shrug:
Things started well for the Cats. A short punt set UC up at the UofL 47. George Winn ran for 8, 1, 5 and 3 to set up a 47 yard field goal from Tony Miliano to make it 3-0. UofL got it back with Teddy Bridgewater hitting passes to DeVante Parker for 17 and Andrell Smith for 50. Jeremy Wright punched home the first TD of the game. Legaux would be picked off on the next UC drive, but the Cats forced Bridgewater into a 4th down incompletion. That got things going. So did a 10 yard penalty on Louisville. Munchie ran for 16, hit Damon Julian for 12, Anthony McClung for 2 and Julian for 2. From the Card 14, Ralph David Abernathy IV scampered in to make it 10-7.
UC was able to overcome another Legaux INT but Louisville not overcome Bridgewater's. Maalik Bomar picked off Teddy at the UofL 19. Legaux ran for 8 and a 4 yard score around RDA rushes of 4 and 3 to put the Cats up 10. UofL chipped into the lead on a 13 play, 80 yard drive. Bridgewater hit passes of 16, 14 and 13 while mixing in an 8 yard run to set up an 8 yard Senorise Perry TD. The Cards had a desperation 57 yard field goal fall short going into halftime.
The Bearcats put the lead back to 10 to start the second half. Munchie ran for 8, Abernathy caught a 5 yard pass, Winn ran for 10, 2 and 4. A defensive PI moved UC to the UofL 25. Travis Kelce hauled in a 19 yard pass that eventually set up a 4 yard TD run by RDA. Louisville chipped into the lead with another 13 play drive, this time for 66 yards. The highlights were passes of 14 and 16 by Bridgewater. The Bearcats held when UofL got in a goal to go situation, forcing a John Wallace 26 yard kick to make it 24-17.
Louisville tied things up early in the 4th. After a botched punt by the former Kai Dominguez, the current Kai De La Cruz, UofL started at the 7. Bridgewater went deep up the sideline to Damian Copeland for 51. A couple of runs got Louisville to the UC 30. Bridgewater went deep for DeVante Parker for 30 yards and the tie. UC had a chance for the lead following a Card punt. A 16 yard pass to Kenbrell Thompkins was followed by a 25 yard Winn run. UC was able to get to the 28. Travis Kelce was wide open, but he and Munchie couldn't connect. Tony Miliano missed from 46. Louisville took advantage. A 7 yard pass to Copeland was followed by a 64 yard big play score to Parker. Abernathy broke a huge return to the 41. Thompkins caught a 22 yard pass. After an 11 yard run, Legaux hooked up with the big play maker Damon Julian for a 26 yard TD score. Louisville ran out regulation.
UC started with the ball in overtime. Facing 3-9, Legaux went for the end zone. He was picked off by Terrell Floyd. Perry ran for 9, 2 and 2 before Jeremy Wright ran for 2 and lost 4. Facing a 30 yard field goal, the snap went over the holders hands. But before that happened, UC called timeout. Cue
John Wallace nailed the 30 yard kick and was carried off the field in celebration. Teddy Bridgewater was 24-41 for 416 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. DeVante Parker had 4-120-2 TDs, Damian Copeland had 5-96. For UC, Legaux was 13-28 for 157, 1 TD, 3 INTs. George Winn ran 26 times for 125 yards. RDA had 10-39-2 TDs. Greg Blair recorded 19 tackles and 1.5 sacks.
3) Cincinnati 35 Louisville 27. October 15, 2010.
The 2010 meeting between Cincinnati and Louisville was one of the best games of the Butch Jones era. Sure, Cincinnati wasn't that great. Louisville was in year one under Charlie Strong and weren't world beaters. But what happened on that Friday night was certainly memorable and one of the best Keg of Nails games ever.
Things started big from the get go. On UC's second play, Zach Collaros hooked up with DJ Woods for a 47 yard touchdown pass. Woods was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct, which made UC have to kick from the 15. Louisville used the legs of Bilal Powell to get to the UC 23. But Chris Philpott missed from 40 yards to keep UC ahead. UC wouldn't be ahead long. Collaros was picked by Greg Scruggs at the 27. Adam Froman hit Cameron Graham for 9 yards on 3rd down and 2 plays later, hit Josh Chichester for an 11 yard TD strike to even it up. UC came right back at the Cards first drawing a pass interference, then chipping away with back to back 8 yard runs by Isaiah Pead and short passes to Ben Guidugli. Facing 1-G from the 10, Collaros hit Armon Binns for a 10 yard score. Louisville answered right back with their second play, which happened to be this:
I will never get tired of watching that. Pead fumbled at midfield on UC's next drive. UofL went tricky, with Doug Beaumont throwing a pass to Adam Froman for 27 yards. The Cards were stuffed from the 12, having to settle for a 26 year Philpott field goal to make it 17-14. The Cards weren't done scoring. Following a 3 & out, Louisville put down a 12 play, 69 yard drive over 6 minutes. The Cards chipped away until Powell cashed in a 9 yard score. Down 10, UC needed to get going. Collaros hit a screen to Binns for 25, Pead ran for 6 and 16. From the 31, Collaros went deep to Binns for the score. We went to the half UofL 24 UC 21.
Louisville left more points on the field their first drive of the second half. After a 46 yard run by Powell and a 20 yard pass from Froman to Andrell Smith, the Cards were stuffed. Philpott missed a 40 yard kick. It was Cincinnati's turn to grind the Card defense with a long drive. UC went 14 plays, 77 yards over 6 minutes to retake the lead. UC chipped away with short plays then kicked the door open with a 14 yard TD toss from Collaros to Binns. Cincinnati's next drive went into UofL territory before Collaros threw his second INT of the day, this time to Darius Ashley. Nate Nord hauled in a 20 yard pass to get to the Cat 28. Beaumont moved them 11 yards. Again, the Bearcat defense tightened up, forcing the Cards to settle for a field goal. Philpott hit this one from 37 to make it a 1 point game.
With Louisville back in the mix, UC needed a big play. They got one. Facing a 3-9 at the 38, Collaros unleashed a bomb deep down the sideline to Armon Binns for a 62 yard TD.
Froman completed passes of 19, 12 and 20 to get to the UC 20. A 3-2 pass to Blayne Donnell got the Cards to the 8. Once again, the defense was up to the challenge. Incomplete pass, JK Schaffer stopped Powell for a loss of 4, incomplete and a 4th down pass broken up by Cameron Cheatham did it for the Cardinals. UC was able to run out the clock.
Zach Collaros was 18-28, 275 yards, a career high 5 TDs with 2 INTs. He also ran for 32 yards. His top target was Armon Binns, who had a career game with 8 catches for 175 yards and 3 TDs. DJ Woods had 61 yards and 2 TDs. Isaiah Pead ran 21 times for 145 yards. Froman was 18-27, 179 yards, 1 TD for Louisville. Bilal Powell ran 24 times for 209 yards and 2 TDs with 13 yards receiving. Not playing Bilal Powell was probably one of the reasons Krags was fired.
2) Louisville 43 Cincinnati 40. November 28, 2003.
For my money, this is the best game in the history of the Keg of Nails. This game is memorable for being not only great, it was the last game of the Rick Minter era in Cincinnati. Just like this year, the 2003 game closed out the regular season. If this was a best games list, this would by far be the top entry.
Cincinnati took their first possession right down the field. Runs of 7, 8 and 12 got the Cats into UofL territory. Gino Guidugli hooked up with Cedric Dawley for a 22 yard pass to the 17. Carl Jones ran for 13. On 2-G at the 1, Kyle Koester punched home a TD. Louisville would have gone 3 & out on their next drive, but a facemask on 3-3 on a 2 yard run kept the drive alive. The Cards pounded the run game for 5, 5, 8, 6, 8, 10, 2 and finally Kolby Smith ran 5 yards to tie things up. UC's next drive got into field goal range. Unfortunately Chet Ervin was no good from 48. Louisville was facing another 3 & out when an incomplete pass resulted in a roughing the passer. Stefan LeFors hit JR Russell for 19, Ronnie Ghent for 11 and Richard Owens from 7 yards out to put the Cards ahead. The extra point was blocked by Adam Roberts so it was 13-7.
The Bearcat offense did nothing the following drive. Louisville kept scoring. A 3 yard run and 11 yard run set up LeFors breaking a 69 yard run off the right side for another TD. LeFors thought that was so fun he ran for the 2 point conversion to make it 21-7. The Cardinal defense jumped in on the scoring when Rod Day stripped Carl Jones. Brandon Johnson, former Bengal, picked the ball up and scored from 20 yards to make it a 21 point game. UC put the ball in the hands of Gino Guidugli. It worked. He completed passes of 4 and 8 then ran for 33. Booker Vann had runs to 7 and 16 to help out before Mike Daniels scored from 4 yards out to cut the lead to 14 at halftime.
Cincinnati started the second half with the ball. They got great field position on a 43 yard return by Mike Daniels. Guidugli went to Vann for 16 and ran for 14 to get the Cats to the UofL 18. They stalled out from there. Chris Manfredini was true from 29 to get UC a little closer. The Bearcat defense helped them get even closer when Zach Norton forced Kolby Smith to fumble at the UC 23. Gino hooked up with Derick Ross for a 40 yard pass play on 3-12 to get inside the Card 30. A pass to Bill Poland for 11 got UC as close as they would get. Manfredini hit a 32 yard kick to make it an 8 point game. The Cards came back down the field with a couple of big gains by JR Russell. Russell had a drop on 3rd down that forced out Nate Smith. His kick from 36 hit the crossbar.
The missed kick was a big boost for UC. On the second play of the drive, Gino hit Hannibal Thomas for 61 yards to the Card 17. A play later, Guidugli fired to Dennis Hart for a 17 yard TD. Mike Daniels ran in the 2 point play. Broderick Clark fumbled the kickoff. Antoine Horton recovered at the 28. The Cats couldn't get anything going. Manfredini was called on again and again he was good, this time from 38. Early in the 4th quarter, Cincinnati was in the lead 31-28. All of a sudden Cincinnati wasn't in the lead because Michael Bush took a handoff on a fake reverse 81 yards to put Louisville back in front 35-31. On the Cards next possession, Doug Monaghan stripped Lionel Gates of the ball at the UofL 48. The Bearcats moved the ball down to the 16. On 3-5, Guidugli was sacked. Manfredini was on again. He was true again from 38 yards out. 35-34.
Following a Louisville punt, UC took over with 3:58 left. Jones rushed for 5 then 10. Gino said "Let's keep moving big distances," probably and did it by hitting Hart for a 51 yard pass to the Louisville 4. Kyle Koester cashed in his 2nd score of the day. UC went for 2 but the pass was incomplete. UC was ahead 40-35. The Cats had UofL facing 3-10 when LeFors found Ghent for 15. He found Ghent for 5 to make up for a false start. After a timeout, LeFors went deep, finding JR Russell for a 54 yard TD pass. LeFors ran in the 2 point play for good measure. UC had a final shot. Gino hit Ross for 22 yards to around midfield. A 3rd down pass to Thaddeus Lewis had UC at the Card 38 with 25 seconds left. After an incompletion, Guidugli was sacked for a 7 yard loss. With 10 seconds left, a quick pass towards Cedric Dawley was incomplete. A Hail Mary went unanswered. Louisville survived.
Cincinnati outgained Louisville 539 to 526. Gino Guidugli was 20-40 for 336 yards and 1 TD. Carl Jones ran for 86 yards. Chris Manfredini was 4-4 on field goals. Hannibal Thomas had 89 receiving yards. For Louisville, Stefan LeFors was 16-27 for 211 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT. He also rushed for 80 yards and a TD. Michael Bush ran 11 times for 125 yards and a TD. Lionel Gates went for 89 yards. JR Russell had 6-111-1 TD. He loved playing UC. Brent Johnson had 17 tackles.
1) Louisville 70 Cincinnati 7. November 27, 2004.
When I say most memorable Keg of Nails games, this one sticks out for all the wrong reasons. It was the low point for Cincinnati football under Mark Dantonio. Cincinnati had a decent team at 6-4 and were 5-2 in the league. There was a bit of a commotion when Cincinnati jumped on the Cardinal bird before the game started. That was the most fun the Bearcats would have this afternoon.
It came out Bobby Petrino said "This play will score," when Louisville called up a run for Eric Shelton. He was exactly right because Shelton ran 80 yards up the middle for a TD. The immortal Collin Carey got the start for UC. He would be sacked on the first drive. On UC's second possession, Chet Ervin fumbled a punt or something that was recovered the 9. Louisville turned it over on downs at the 1. Carey had an arm punt where he was picked at the UC 48. Louisville took advantage of that turnover. On 3-5, Stefan LeFors his Montrell Jones for a 43 yard TD to make it 14-0. On UC's next possession, Ervin had a punt blocked by Brandon Johnson that was returned for a 7 yard TD. After a successful UC punt, the Cards struck again.
This time Brian Brohm was in for the Cards. After a couple of 10 yard runs, Brohm took the air. He found Cat killer JR Russell for a 42 yard TD. It was 28-0. UC would respond with a punt. Louisville took over at the 25. Michael Bush ran for 31 yards, 11 yards and 1 yard. When he was tired, Brohm threw a 13 yard TD to Montrell Jones for the second TD for both men. The second quarter as halfway over and it was 35-0. The Cats caught a break on another punt when Bill Poland forced a Jones fumble at the UC 18. Unfortunately Brad Glatthaar fumbled at the UC 25. Kolby Smith would cash in on a quick drive to give us the halftime score of 42-0. The half of course ended with George Murray throwing an INT.
Chet Ervin hit a bad punt early in the second half, a punt of only 30 yards to the UofL 45. Louisville didn't need much help scoring off that because Eric Shelton ran for 54 yards and Smith cashed in from a yard out. The UC punt team came out again and once again failure happened. Ervin got off a 45 yard punt, but Montrell Jones took it 72 yards to the house. The bad times didn't stop for the punt team. Yet another punt was blocked, this time by Chad Rimpsey. It was recovered by Tiger Jones to make the score 63-0 after 3 quarters.
UC eventually moved the ball. Murray ran for 6, Richard Hall 9, Glatthaar 4, Butler Benton 8, Hall 12, Glatthaar 13, Benton 5, Hall 5, Benton 4, a rare pass was completed for 6 yards, Hall ran for 5, Glatthaar for 3 and Benton cashed in with a 1 yard plunge. It was a nice job. It was also a short lived rally. Smith broke a 56 yard run to the UC 6. He walked in from 5 yards out to hang the 70 spot.
70 is the highest point total of the series. 63 points is the largest margin of victory in the series as well. Collin Carey was 4-13 for 18 yards and a pick. George Murray was 4-14 for 15 yards and a pick. The QBs were sacked 7 times. UC lost more yards on sacks, 34, than they had passing, 33. Richard Hall did run for 62 yards. I believe Louisville ran for 700 yards, but the stats say 357, which is actually worse. Louisville hadn't hit 70 points since 1955. Louisville hung 491 yards on the Cats.. Eric Shelton ran for 158 yards and a TD on 10 carries. Michael Bush had 12 carries for 106 yards. Kolby Smith had 71 yards and 3 scores. Stefan LeFors was just 8-11 for 79 yards and TD. Brian Brohm was 2-4, 55 yards, 2 TDs. JR Russell had 48 yards and a TD. Abe Brown 1.5, Bobby Leffew 1.5, Elvis Dumerville 1, Chad Rimpsey 1, Montavious Stanley 1 and Brent Johnson 1 had the sacks.
To wash that taste out of your mouth, here is offensive lineman Evan Davis doing a Keg stand.