History of Governor’s Cup & Last Year Recap

Saturday’s game will mark the 26th Meeting between the Cards and Cats and the 20th consecutive match-up since the renewal of the series in 1994.  Previous to 1994 the series was on hiatus after 1924 when Kentucky defeated Louisville 6 times without the Cards scoring.  Upon renewal of the series Kentucky agreed to play Louisville on the condition that the game be held at Commonwealth Stadium until the Cards had a venue that could accommodate at least 40,000 fans.  As a result, and the evident deterioration of (Old) Cardinal Stadium, Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was erected for the 1998 season.  Currently the Cats hold the overall edge 14-11, with the Cards enjoying the most success in the modern series 11-8.

The Modern Day Scoring is Louisville 565 Kentucky 472.  The All-Time Scoring is UK 682 to UofL 565 as a result of Louisville not scoring in the first 6 meetings.  However, in order to put the proper perspective on the series I’m going to stick with some modern day facts.

The modern series average score is Louisville 29.74 to UK 24.84.  Before last year’s 18 point victory over Kentucky the previous 3 games have been decided by an average of 6 points.  The Cards are just 1-2 in their last three trips to Commonwealth, but do enjoy a 6-5 series advantage on the road in the rivalry.

Louisville has won 2 in a row in the series, but is just 2-4 in the last 6 meetings.

Last Year

Last year the Cards dominated 32-14 in front of a PJCS record crowd of 55,386.  The Cards did whatever they wanted on offense.  Take for example the stats: 466 yards, 247 passing, 219 rushing, Time of Possession of 36:21, and Teddy Bridgewater was 19 of 21 through the air.  Teddy’s incompletions:  A drop by Andrell Smith and a throw away while escaping the pocket.    But, that doesn’t even tell the whole story.  Louisville replaced Bridgewater with Will Stein with about 2:43 remaining in the 3rd Quarter.  Stein got 4 possessions with the Cards and failed to score, and it became clear to all Cards fans just how important Teddy Bridgewater is to the Louisville offense.

You can read my review of last year’s game here. 

Or you can watch CrumsRevenge highlights:

Quick Rundown

The Battle for the Governor’s Cup has so many other great moments.  I’ve attended all but two games in the series since it began in 1994, but I’ll never forget the opening game for PJCS in 1998 when Tim Couch sent pass after pass over the heads of Louisville DBs to Craig Yeast and Company.  It was hot. Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was brand new, the concession stands ran out of water and the Cards went down 68-34. UofL would trade that beatdown for another a year later in 1999 for a 56-28 score in Lexington.

But then in 2000, after an hour and fourteen minute storm delay Louisville and Kentucky were able to resume in overtime.  Tony Stallings broke off a 25-yard game sealing Touchdown run that capped off his 15 carry 144-yard and 2 Touchdown performance.  Stallings run and Louisville’s win really overshadowed a HUGE freshman debut by Kentucky QB Jared Lorenzen who threw for 22-34 for 322 and 3 TDs, he also added 3 INTs as well.


In 2002, Louisville was #17 in the Associated Press Pre-season poll and was shocked at Home in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.  Louisville’s Offensive Line was no match for Kentucky’s Defensive line led by DeWayne Robertson and Jeremy Caudill, and Artose Pinner was a persistent runner for 28 carries, 87 yards and a TD.  There wasn’t much pretty in this game for either team, but Jared Lorenzen was able to get his lone win (1-3 against the Cards) in a really hard fought game.  Lorenzen would finish 13-27 for 195 yards and a TD as well.  In contrast Dave Ragone was sacked and hit throughout the game and completed just 35.9% of his passes as he finished 14-39 for 193 yards with a TD and an INT.  (if anyone has any good video of this game I’d love to see it. Please e-mail me CardsandCats2011@gmail.com).

From 2003 to 2006 the Cardinals dominated the series under the direction of Bobby Petrino. Kentucky coach Rich Brooks wasn’t able to defeat the Cards until after Petrino left the school for the Atlanta Falcons in 2007.  Louisville went in to the 2003 game with a lot of questions: new coach in Bobby Petrino, new Quarterback, and questionable depth but the Cards were able to run the ball behind their new two-headed rushing attack in Lionel Gates (13 carries, 75 yards, TD) and Eric Shelton (25 carries, 151 yards, and 2 TDs).  Lefors managed the game 14-23 for 180 yards 1 TD/1 INT.  A thunderstorm also delayed this game but the moment that really should resonate in the minds of fans is that the Cards capped off the game’s final seconds up 33-24 with a last second Touchdown that drew the ire of Kentucky coach Rich Brooks.

There was much discussion on whether or not Bobby Petrino should have taken a knee during the 2003 game.  In 2004 Bobby Petrino did take a knee on the UK 1-yard line for  4th down giving the Cats the ball back with 9 seconds remaining in a 28-0 loss.  Louisville really dominated this game outgaining Kentucky 439-238 yards.  Again the damage was done on the ground with the Cards having a 261-66 advantage.  You can see some highlights including Bobby Petrino’s comments about taking a knee in the video below.

The 2005 game was unexpectedly interesting in the 4th quarter.  Louisville was without Stefan Lefors and was starting sophomore QB Brian Brohm for his first full-time starting role with the Cards.  The Cards raced off for a 28-7 halftime lead but the Cards would manage to score just 3 points in the 2nd half.  In the 3rd quarter Rafael Little broke off a huge 52-yard rush that would set up a TD, and Andre Woodson would find Jacob Tamme for an 85-yard TD early in the 4th quarter.  The game nearly was tied after UK blocked a Cardinal punt, but Andre Woodson fumbled the ball on the Louisville 2-yard line.  Louisville responded with a ball-controlling possession that lasted the final 6:21 of the game basically running the ball with Michael Bush.  Bush finished with 128 yards on 27 carries and two TDs.  But the player of the game was Elvis Dumervil who had 11 tackles, 6 sacks, and two Forced Fumbles.

The 2006 win for Louisville was bittersweet. Louisville dominated as the pre-season #13 team in the nation and beat the Cats 59-28.  The Cards scored on the 3rd play from scrimmage.  The play is still etched into the minds of Cardinal fans and the moment is forever remembered in the photo below.

The rest of the game went much the same way for the Cards.  Louisville outgained Kentucky 631-260, and had 31 first downs to Kentucky’s 8.  But if Bush’s first carry for a 48-yard TD is a signature moment, then what happened early in the 3rd quarter is equally infamous.  Bush took a carry for a 1-yard loss for his last as a Louisville Cardinal when Wesley Woodyard brought him down and Bush’s right leg was caught beneath Woodyard’s body.  The win for Louisville was the last in the Governor’s Cup until the Cards were able to reclaim the trophy last year in 2011.

In 2007 Kentucky surprised college football with an upset of the AP’s #10 Louisville Cardinals.  This game was one of the more exciting in the series and is affectionately known by Cat fans as “Stevie Got Loose”.  The game was extremely well-matched as UofL held the yardage margin with 467-460 yards, and UK had the first down advantage 27-26.  The Cards had two turnovers that was probably the difference along with Kentucky’s Rafael Little having an outstanding game on the ground with 151 yards on 27 carries.  The loss for the Cards negated a HUGE game by Louisville’s Harry Douglas who caught 13 balls for 223 yards.  The game’s final play saw Douglas catch a hail mary 10 yards short of the goal line.  A play that was necessary considering Andre Woodson to Steve Johnson over a nowhere to be found Woodny Turenne. The game & play is considered a turning point in the series as Kentucky would find itself #7 in the BCS standings during the October 14th poll, and Louisville would fall a week later to Syracuse and would fall out of the polls until the 2012 AP pre-season poll.


When you have some classics you are also going to have a few duds….The 2008 Governor’s Cup was probably the most boring game ever witnessed by man. It was hot, and there was no offense.  Compared to the 2007 game that saw a combined 927 yards, the 2008 contest was completely different with the two teams producing just 415 yards total (210 for UK, and 205 for UofL) and 16 combined punts.  The Cards gave the Cats the advantage by giving up the ball 5 times, Hunter Cantwell threw 3 INTs and added a fumble, Bilal Powell also fumbled.  Neither team was likely to score without the other making a mistake.  Kentucky scored their first points on a FG after a punt from the UofL 3-yard line was returned 22 yards and put the Cats in immediate FG range.  Bilal Powell’s fumble was returned for a Kentucky TD & Hunter Cantwell’s fumble was also returned for a UK TD.  Kentucky did put together a legitimate 12-play scoring drive for a field goal, before Hunter Cantwell set up another TD for Kentucky when Trevard Lindley intercepted his pass and returned it to the Louisville 7-yard line.  Tony Dixon would score on the next play.

The Cards managed to score their only points with a sack/safety by then walk-on Will Savoy.  And UofL had few scoring opportunities getting into Kentucky scoring territory 4 times the entire game.  The Cards had a FG blocked in the 1st quarter, then in the 2nd quarter Steve Kragthorpe elected to go for a 4th & 1 instead of attempting a 38-yard field goal while UK was winning 10-0.  Kentucky got the win, their second in consecutive years.  But this game was UGLY.  Kentucky’s defense dominated as they made opportunities against Louisville’s offense.

2009 was a return to entertaining football.  The game was balanced and was full of twists and turns.  It started in the first quarter where after a Louisville TD to put the Cards up 7-3, Derrick Locke quickly answered with a 100-yard kickoff return for a TD.  The Cats would take a 17-7 halftime lead.  The Cards would hit two field goals in the 3rd quarter to pull within 17-13, but then the fireworks began to happen in an eventful 4th quarter.  Two plays into the 4th the Cards capped a 10-play 69-yard drive to take the lead 20-17, and Kentucky answered right back with a 12-play 73 yard Touchdown drive of their own.  Louisville then came right back and needed just two plays to find Trent Guy for a 66-yard TD to reclaim the lead 27-24.

The Cards would stop Kentucky with a little more than 5 minutes remaining in the game, but Trent Guy fumbled the punt return and Kentucky’s AJ Nance would recover at the Cardinal 25-yard line.  Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb took just 3 plays to find the endzone and take the lead 31-27.  The Cards had 4:28 to drive the field, but the Cats helped out with an unsportsmanlike penalty that moved the kickoff back to the 15 giving the Cards the ball at their own 40 to start the drive.  Then the Cats helped UofL’s game winning drive again when Micah Johnson grabbed Victor Anderson’s facemask on the first play of the drive, stopping the clock and moving the ball into Louisville territory.  The game was effective over when UK’s Sam Maxwell hauling in a Justin Burke tipped pass off of the hands of Corey Peters.  The Cards would get the ball back after UK forced the Cards to use all of their timeouts while rushing for the next 3 plays before punting with just 50 seconds remaining.  The last minute drive was unsuccessful for the Cards and the Governor’s Cup stayed in Lexington.

The 2009 Game stands out to me for a lot of reasons.  Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb were awesome in this game.  They basically did what they wanted and I felt like UK didn’t use them as often as they should have which kept the game closer.  Locke was particularly impressive with 15 carries for 72 yards and a TD and also had 4 receptions for 47 yards.  Also Terrence Simien lacerated his kidney during this game and was playing extremely well. This was also the post-game press conference where Steve Kragthorpe famously said of Trent Guy: “That guy is a freaking stud”.  Following Guy’s 1 catch for 66 yard, and 5 kickoff returns for 170 yard performance and his fumbled punt that set up the Cat’s go-ahead score. In all the game was very closely matched Louisville had 19 first downs, Kentucky had 18. UofL had 378 yards and the Cats had 348.

The 2010 Governor’s Cup marked the beginning of the Joker Phillips and Charlie Strong era.  Going into the game the Cats were believed to have the advantage having won the previous 3 match-ups, the staff essentially remaining in place with the elevation of Joker Phillips to Head Coach from Offensive Coordinator, Mike Hartline returning at quarterback, and Kentucky having been to 4 straight bowl games.  Contrast that with Louisville who hadn’t been to a bowl in 3 years, had a complete overhaul of their staff, and did not have a sure-fire starting QB.  The game ended up being pretty close, but it was the Locke and Cobb show once again as the Cats tallied 466 yards to the Cards 317 while pulling away to a 23-16 victory in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

The game got started out early for the Wildcats who caught the young Cardinal defense out of position on their first possession.  Before the 1st quarter was over the Cats had a 13-0 lead on the Cards who could managed just one first down in the initial period.  Derrick Locke was HUGE for the Cats in the first quarter and basically dominated for the first 15 minutes.  The Cards were able to get on the board thanks to great field position by Victor Anderson’s 67-yard kickoff return that placed UofL in immediate scoring position. The Cards would not gain a first down, but did settle for a field goal.

After the 1st quarter domination from Derrick Locke it was Randall Cobb’s turn who proceeded to haul in a 51-yard TD run again catching the young Cardinal Defense out of position.  On the day Cobb and Locke would account for 325 combined all-purpose yards. But that Cats would score just once more in the game, a Ryan Tydlacka 41-yard field goal which allowed Louisville a chance (if they could find some offense) to make a comeback.  Unfortunately for the Cards in this contest, Touchdowns were hard to come by. In the 2nd quarter UofL settled for a FG following a 16-play, 8:08, 65 yard drive.  The only Cardinal touchdown on the day was a 1-play, 80-yard TD run by Bilal Powell.  Down 23-13 with 10:24 remaining in the game Louisville put together another long drive only to settle for a field goal in the end.  Louisville’s final possession of 17-plays and 71 yards was efficient, but not for a team trailing by two scores.  It simply took up too much time to score and the Cats were able to churn up the final 3:16 to end the game.  (any good video of this game would also be appreciated).


The Cards were able to stop a 4-game losing streak  in Lexington 24-17 despite losing starting Quarterback Will Stein very early in the game.  In the end, it was Louisville’s ability to run the ball 181 yards on the ground to UK’s 35 that won the game for the Cards.  Dominique Brown made the switch from QB to RB after the Cards fell to Florida International, and he broke out with 91 yards on 14 carries.  Kentucky had a chance to tie the game in the 4th quarter when they had the ball in the redzone and actually looked like they would have converted a 3rd & 2 before UK’s DeMarco Robinson was stripped by Stephan Robinson.  As a result the Cats had to go for a desperation 4th & 6 after the loss of yardage and Morgan Newton’s pass to La’Rod King fell incomplete. You can read my review of the 2011s game with this link. 

Here is a highlight video from our very own UofL fan contributor: CrumsRevenge

FB (2011): Louisville 24 Kentucky 17 from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.

What the Game Traditionally Means

Typically the winner of the game enjoys success throughout the year, while the loser struggles to make a bowl.  The charts below illustrate:

Record When UofL wins wins losses Record when UofL Loses wins losses
1995 7 4 1994 6 5
1996 5 6 1997 1 10
1999 7 5 1998 7 5
2000 9 3 2002 7 6
2001 11 2 2007 6 6
2003 9 4 2008 5 7
2004 11 1 2009 4 8
2005 9 3 2010 7 6
2006 12 1 43 53
2011 7 6 5.38 6.63
2012 11 2
98 37
8.91 3.36


Record when UK wins wins losses Record when UK loses wins losses
1994 1 10 1995 4 7
1997 5 6 1996 4 7
1998 7 5 1999 6 6
2002 7 5 2000 2 9
2007 8 5 2001 2 9
2008 7 6 2003 4 8
2009 7 6 2004 2 9
2010 6 7 2005 3 8
48 50 2006 8 5
6 6.25 2011 5 7
2012 2 10
42 85
3.82 7.73
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@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

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