I will openly admit that I saw a similar styled list about another sports team on Twitter and got the idea for the list from there. I thought it would be nice to look back at the (mostly) highs and lows of the last 15 years of Louisville football by looking at the most interesting and impactful games for the team. Obviously, these are in order of my opinion on how impactful they were, so feel free to chime in if you disagree! Also, Wake Forest inexplicably made the list twice. Twice. Without further ado…
1991 Fiesta Bowl vs. Alabama – W 34-7
This game wasn’t in the last 15 years, but without it, it’s arguable that the rest of the list doesn’t happen. Howard Schnellenberger turned the tide (unintentional pun) and started Louisville on its “collision course”. The game is the most impactful in the football teams history.
25. September 29th, 2012 – Louisville 21, Southern Miss 17
I personally will never forget this game for the simple reason that I spent the entire game wondering when the officials were just going to call it. The rain started early and came down hard, and Southern Miss’ field was not able to handle the downpour. It was a ridiculous game that, other than the rain, didn’t have much other implications on the program.
24. November 27th, 2004 – Louisville 70, Cincinnati 7
For fans who don’t remember, this was the game when Louisville had enough of the bullshit. For years, teams would come into the stadium and stomp on the midfield cardinal bird logo. The team would always get pissed off and try to run the teams off, and inevitably play better. But this game was different. Cincinnati wasn’t supposed to challenge, let alone win the game. But they also weren’t supposed to lose by 63 points. It was a beatdown the likes of which I don’t recall seeing before or since really. It was a message sent to the rest of the country. Don’t disrespect the logo. One other team made the mistake, but that’s further down the list.
23. October 15th, 2005 – West Virginia 46, Louisville 44 – 3OT
A shootout between the two teams that would bring the Big East the most prominence since Miami left, this was a great, exciting game and set up Rich Rodriquez and Bobby Petrino as two of the hottest coaches in the country. Just a great game on a big stage for both schools.
22. January 2nd, 2006 – Gator Bowl – Virginia Tech 35, Louisville 24
MARCUS VICK STOMPED ON ELVIS DUMERVIL’S LEG!!!!!!! W. T. F!!!!!!!!!!!!
21. September 15th & 22nd, 2007 – Kentucky 40, Louisville 34 & Syracuse 38, Louisville 35
First, the Kentucky game. Louisville became accustomed to beating Kentucky with Petrino at the helm. Enter Steve Kragthorpe. That shit went out the window FAST. Also, fucking Stevie Johnson.
But it wasn’t until the next week, against Syracuse, that the fan base became aware how much trouble they were in. Syracuse was awful that year. They finished 3-9 that season. one of those three were against Louisville, in Louisville. I remember the crowd booing Mario Urrutia as he caught a ball heading out of bounds and spiked the ball toward the defender, causing an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty and Kragthorpe to go ballistic on him on the sideline. I was a jarring defeat.
20. November 27th, 2009 – Rutgers 34, Louisville 14
This game was impactful (or memorable) for two reasons. One, Doug Beaumont took a hit (seen above) that put him on a stretcher and Kragthorpe on the warpath out at midfield. Two, it was also Kragthorpe’s last game in Louisville. He was going to be fired at the end of the season almost no matter what, but it was a relief for the fan base when it finally happened.
19. October 1st, 2011 – Marshall 17, Louisville 13
Ah yes, one of the biggest riffs in the fan base history. Will Stein vs. freshman Teddy Bridgewater. It’s actually really hilarious in hindsight that this was a discussion. This was the game that really gave fans a glimpse into the future. Stein got hurt in the Kentucky game the week prior, and Teddy came in did a great job and led the team to its first win against Kentucky since Kragthorpe was hired. However, this game stands out to me because of the touchdown run (above) and because it signaled Teddy taking the reigns of the team. It worked out pretty well for them in the long run.
18. October 14th, 2004 – Miami 41, Louisville 38
The Brian Brohm drive. Stephan Lefors got hurt in the fourth quarter, and Brohm led an 80-yd drive to give Louisville a 38-34 lead. Unfortunately, Miami came back and won the game, but it was definitely one of the most memorable games from Petrino’s first run as coach.
17. December 28th, 2013 – Russell Athletic Bowl – Louisville 36, Miami 9
September 1st, 2014 – Louisville 31, Miami 13
Okay, a few things. I know I’m combining games again, from two seasons no less, but these games are wrapped all around each other. But first the individual games. The RAB gave us this amazing picture after a DeVante Parker touchdown. It was the university’s last football game in the AAC, and it was also Charlie Strong’s last game at Louisville.
Now for the opener. Not only did Louisville play Miami in back-to-back games (how many times does that happen?) but it bookended the end of one era and the start of a new. Petrino is back, and he brought back the black uniforms to put the ACC on notice. The uniforms looked amazing, especially with Lorenzo Mauldin’s hair:
All of this.
16. November 30th, 2015 – Music City Bowl – Louisville 27, Texas A&M 21
Lamar Jackson set the rushing yard record for the Music City Bowl. Lamar Jackson, the QUARTERBACK of the team, set the rushing yard record for the Music City Bowl. Plus, the game was never as close as the score insinuates.
15. November 29th, 2012 – Louisville 20, Rutgers 17
Banged up Teddy is the best Teddy. This game signaled to Louisville fans the GUMPtion (sorry) their quarterback had and sent Teddy into legend territory almost immediately.
14. December 5th, 2013 – Louisville 31, Cincinnati 24
The Teddy Cheer! He was the best.
13. November 12th, 2016 – Louisville 44, Wake Forest 12
This game gave us two things: this gem from Jaire Alexander shown above, and the beginning of the end for defensive coordinator Todd Grantham. Here is the WakeyLeaks sequence of events as I can see them: Grantham got ahold of the Wake Forest plays (or whatever was found) and didn’t tell Petrino. Petrino gets asked about it postgame and looks like an idiot in front of everyone because he wasn’t privy to the information. Petrino is (understandably) pissed and it causes a riff in the coaching staff. The team doesn’t win another game for the season, the defense looks lost and vulnerable after not looking bad, and Grantham is shown the door after the bowl game.
It would take actual evidence at this point to convince me otherwise.
12. September 3rd, 2006 – Louisville 59, Kentucky 28
Michael Bush had 124 yards and 3 touchdowns in just over two quarters worth of work in this game before having his leg broken on a tackle. It ended Bush’s Louisville career and very possibly cost Louisville a shot at the national championship that season. It was one of the more heartbreaking moments for Louisville fans.
11. December 31st, 2004 – AutoZone Liberty Bowl – Louisville 44, Boise State 40
One of the most fun bowl games I can remember, this was a huge matchup for both programs, as it lead to both getting huge jumps into the national conversation. Just a great game all around, and Boise State and Louisville fans left the game with a mutual respect for the teams and fan bases alike.
10. November 26th, 2016 – Kentucky 41, Louisville 38
This game was really hard to watch for Louisville fans. Louisville had the superior team, the eventual Heisman winner, and a legacy of beating Kentucky with Bobby Petrino in the building. It all went up in flames, due mostly to the fact that the defense couldn’t contain Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson. Petrino gets his first loss to Kentucky and it signals a lot of trouble for the team.
9. November 2nd, 2006 – Louisville 44, West Virginia 34
Louisville avenged the loss to a loaded West Virginia team the previous year, and launched themselves into the national title conversation. If I remember correctly, this was also the Black Out game where the lights in the stadium went out for a few seconds. It was an epic, fun game and one that Louisville fans still remember vividly.
8. September 16th, 2006 – Louisville 31, Miami 7
The Hurricanes stomping on the bird and nearly inciting a riot pregame.
The Urrutia stiff arm.
The revenge for the loss two years prior.
Just a huge occasion, one the Cardinals rose up to.
7. September 5th, 2015 – Chik-Fil-A Kickoff Game – Auburn 31, Louisville 24
A huge statement to be put into this game alone, Louisville came out like a team that hadn’t been there before, but recovered enough to make the game interesting. It wouldn’t be enough in the end, but the uniforms and Lamar Jackson getting the surprise first throw of the game (even if it was an interception) was a lot of fun and a good time in Atlanta.
6. October 1st, 2016 – Clemson 42, Louisville 36
Another epic game culminating in a loss. It was a great game, back and forth, and Louisville just didn’t have enough in the end to knock off the eventual National Champion. Most fans still blame James Quick for the loss, but there are way too many factors in this game to knock only Quick. Also, fuck Ben Boulware forever.
5. November 9th, 2006 – Rutgers 28, Louisville 25
Sorry, but you knew it was going to be on the list. Jeremy Ito. William Gay. No Michael Bush. easily the worst loss Louisville has ever experienced. A phenomenal game, but one that most Louisville fans would like to forget.
4. September 26th, 2002 – Louisville 26, Florida State 20 – OT
I remember Anthony Floyd picking off Chris Rix in overtime. I remember the gap opening for Henry Miller and vaulting the wall to the field. I remember being the first person to touch the goalpost in the horseshoe end of the field before being swallowed by the adults. I remember almost being trampled to death by said adults. I remember Joshua Tinch running up and down the field screaming with joy. I remember the day I fell in love with the emotion in college football.
3. September 17th, 2016 – Louisville 63, Florida State 20
Lamar Jackson made sure Louisville didn’t waste its first College Gameday experience. After Lee Corso donned the Cardinal Bird mascot head, the Cardinals took care of business on the field. The defense wouldn’t leave Deandre Francois alone and Lamar essentially was a one man wrecking crew on offense. There was no reason for Louisville to do what it did. But that’s what made it a great win for the Cardinal faithful.
2. January 2nd, 2007 – Orange Bowl – Louisville 24, Wake Forest 13
The first BCS bowl is a pretty good consolation prize for missing out on the national championship. Getting the win was that much sweeter. Wake Forest got hot this season and it was a little outmatched skill wise in the game, but nothing can replace the feeling of getting that first BCS bowl.
1. January 2nd, 2013 – Sugar Bowl – Louisville 33, Florida 23
This was the biggest game in the last 15 years to me, and it’s not even close. Not only was it a return to a BCS game, but you had the best quarterback in the history of the school, you had a legitimate opponent with real history and credibility (even if Will Muschamp was the coach) and it was an epic game as well. The interception return for a touchdown to start the game combined with the Jon Bostic hit on Teddy (above) got the fans riled up and it was a blast down to the wire. Plus, I’m not sure I can think of a better place to wait for a football game for a week than New Orleans the week of New Year’s.
So there you have it. Other suggestions on a similar subject or team? Did I get it egregiously wrong? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @sports_modern!