Louisville vs. Cincinnati have played 53 times dating back to 1922 and the Bearcats hold a 22-33-1 series advantage.  Louisville won the most recent match-up in overtime last year, but UC has won 4 of the past 5.  Tonight isn’t the end of the Keg of Nails, but it is perhaps the end of the series being regularly played.  Louisville moves into the ACC in 2014 and the Bearcats are still waiting for a more permanent home.

Many fans, including myself, will miss the series across all sports.  But in football Nippert Stadium is my most favorite away venue.  It’s unique, it’s cozy, and it has the most surreal setting in all of college football.  I’ve been to stadiums across our country, none are like this.  But after tonight, Nippert Stadium is getting some work done.

Starting after tonight’s game an $80-$85 Million Expansion project will be undertaken to improve some of the features and traffic flow inside Nippert and also increase capacity by 5000 to 40,000.  Athletic facilities always need tending, but I am hopeful that any renovations maintain the charm that I’ve enjoyed over the years.

Tonight is the last time Cincinnati Football will play in Nippert Stadium until the 2015 season, and with it also being the last time that the Keg of Nails will be claimed for the foreseeable future there is a lot on the line tonight.  UC President Santa J. Ono has even abolished the letter “L” on campus today.

Last Year

Please enjoy highlights of last year’s Overtime victory from Louisville courtesy of our very own CrumsRevenge.

FB: #16 Louisville 34 vs. Cinci 31 (OT) from @CrumsRevenge on Vimeo.

Stat Comparison

Louisville Cincinnati
Scoring Offense (ppg) 35.5 (28th) 34.2 (34th)
Total Offense (ypg) 455.0 (32nd) 487.3 (18th)
Passing Offense (ypg) 307.3 (17th) 314.9 (15th)
Rushing Offense (ypg) 147.73 (85th) 172.36 (65th)
Scoring Defense (ppg) 11.4 (3rd) 18.5 (10th)
Total Defense (ypg) 242.5 (2nd) 302.4 (8th)
Passing Defense (ypg) 159.6 (2nd) 210.8 (24th)
Rushing Defense (ypg) 82.82 (2nd) 91.55 (4th)
Punt Returns (ypr) 6.88 (84th) 6.07 (92nd)
Kickoff Returns (ypr) 23.71 (23rd) 21.22 (64th)
Opponent Punt Returns (ypr) 1.25 (3rd) 11.77 (105th)
Opponent Kickoff Returns (ypr) 22.28 (89th) 18.73 (17th)
Punting (ypp) 40.23 (80th) 42.31 (38th)
Field Goal % 80.0% (42nd) 35.7% (124th)
Opponent Field Goal % 75.0% (73rd) 71.4% (58th)
First Downs (per game) 22.5 (47th) 24.8 (19th)
Opponent First Downs (per game) 13.4 (1st) 16.3 (10th)
Penalties (ypg) 63.4 (110th) 63.5 (111th)
Turnover Margin (season) +15 (5th) -5 (93rd)
Time of Possession 33:33.36 (5th) 32:00.73 (25th)
Sacks (per game) 3.46 (1st) 2.91 (14th)
Sacks Allowed (per game) 2.00 (65th) 1.00 (12th)
Tackles for Loss (per game) 8.00 (7th) 7.00 (25th)
Tackles for Loss Allowed (per game) 5.73 (52nd) 5.27 (39th)
Interceptions (season) 14 (36th) 12 (54th)
Passes Defended (per game) 5.00 (33rd) 4.27 (68th)
Fumbles Recovered (season) 10 (34th) 7 (89th)
Fumbles Forced (season) 14 (15th) 10 (65th)
Fumbles Lost (season) 6 (16th) 10 (83rd)
Kicks/Punts Blocked (season) 2 (41st) n/a
3rd Down Conversions (%) 57.05% (2nd) 50.31% (12th)
Opponent 3rd Down Conversions (%) 26.39% (1st) 31.82% (8th)
4th Down Conversions (%) 0% (125th) 46.67% (70th)
Opponent 4th Down Conversions (%) 55.56% (77th) 50.00% (56th)
Red Zone Conversions (%) 88.00% (27th) 72.92% (114th)
Opponent Red Zone Conversions (%) 67.74% (6th) 71.43% (10th)
RedZone TD Conversions (%) 58.00% (85th) 64.58% (53rd)
Opponent Red Zone TD Conversions (%) 45.16% (7th) 46.43 (9th)
Kickoffs (ypk) 59.66 (98th) 62.40 (39th)

Louisville Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense

Fans have been critical of Louisville’s offense for weeks now.  Having the best quarterback in college football’s Teddy Bridgewater against a lesser schedule and fans, critics, and casual observers expected Louisville to post HUGE numbers in 2013. THAT WON’T HAPPEN AGAINST CINCINNATI.  If it does, the Louisville Offense will be getting fat against the 8th best defense in college football.

We know that Louisville’s offense really isn’t interested in putting up HUGE numbers, they are 14th in Yards Per Play & just 119th in total # of plays in college football.   Louisville’s offense all year has been to control the clock and to limit their opponents opportunities.  As a result the Cards are 10-1, are 5th in the nation in Time of Possession and have allowed their defense to stay rested and play at a high level.  That will be difficult tonight as Cincinnati is VERY good at getting teams off the field with the 8th best 3rd down defense & 10th best Red Zone Defense in the country.

The Bearcats have great personnel and they are also very fundamentally sound.  The one thing UC doesn’t do all that well on defense is creating takeaways.  Louisville on the other side is an excellent ball control team and doesn’t turn the ball over much at all.  Teddy Bridgewater has just 3 INTs on the season and the Cards have lost just 6 fumbles on the season.  In the Cards sole loss on the season, UCF gained two fumbles from the Cards.

Cincinnati is EXCELLENT against the run. Louisville has not set the world on fire running the ball, but they will continue to try tonight.  The conditions and the defensive type of game this will be, will require the ball control style that the Cards have played all season.  But the Cards will still need to throw the ball and take advantage of the best player on the field in Teddy Bridgewater.  UC is also a very good passing defense team, but when picking between the two and considering Louisville’s weapons in the passing game is going to be how Louisville wins the game.  Louisville can’t afford to abandon the run, but if the weather holds out and conditions are favorable to throwing the football, the Cards may air it out more than usual.  These two teams played a thriller in the rain last year and it did take Bridgewater about a half to adjust.

Recently Louisville has stopped producing more than their opponent’s average yards allowed and Cincinnati has only allowed 3 teams to gain more yards than they are accustomed to in a given contest.  Louisville’s offensive slide is obvious and so is Cincinnati’s steady defense.

Total Defense Louisville Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Ohio 392.3 615 222.7 156.77%
Kentucky 427.2 492 64.8 115.17%
FIU 429.7 464 34.3 107.98%
Temple 474.3 525 50.7 110.69%
Rutgers 429.2 461 31.8 107.41%
UCF 349.4 445 95.6 127.36%
USF 350.4 485 134.6 138.41%
Connecticut 396.2 369 -27.2 93.13%
Houston 420 332 -88 79.05%
Memphis 355.5 342 -13.5 96.20%


Total Offense Cincinnati Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Purdue 282.9 226 -56.9 79.89%
Illinois 426.7 522 95.3 122.33%
Miami (OH) 225.8 87 -138.8 38.53%
USF 266 241 -25 90.60%
Temple 399 376 -23 94.24%
Connecticut 298.4 377 78.6 126.34%
Memphis 316.5 232 -84.5 73.30%
SMU 446.3 451 4.7 101.05%
Rutgers 377.8 357 -20.8 94.49%
Houston 422.5 278 -144.5 65.80%

Louisville Defense vs. Cincinnati Offense

Cincinnati’s offense really took off once Brendon Kay took over the reigns.  Kay is not the running threat that Munchie Leagux was, but Brendon completes his passes at a very high rate and UC’s downfield approach really helps out their ground attack.

The Bearcats have excellent skill players all over the field and they use a balanced (skewed slightly to run) approach, with the run setting up big plays in the passing game.  Cincinnati lives on the big play, but they also are excellent at converting 3rd down.

On the other side of that Louisville has the best 3rd down defense in the nation & the 6th best Red Zone Defense in the nation.  The Cards also are excellent at creating takeaways, and UC has done well despite a -5 turnover margin.  Kay has thrown 9 INTs in 9 starts, so I expect the Cards to try and exploit that part of UC’s passing game.

Cincinnati’s offense has been getting better, especially since Kay took over.  Louisville’s defense has been OUTSTANDING all year.  I don’t expect for Cincinnati to be completely shutdown, but I also don’t expect the Bearcats to run up and down the field either.  Timely stops will be key for the Cards in this one.

One major flaw Cincinnati has is field goal kicking and they may rely on scoring Touchdowns to get points.

Total Offense Louisville Allowed vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Ohio 374.8 273 -104.8 72.84%
Kentucky 341.3 376 34.7 110.17%
FIU 222.3 30 -192.3 13.50%
Temple 399 255 -144 63.91%
Rutgers 377.8 240 -137.8 63.53%
UCF 440.5 446 5.5 101.25%
USF 266 133 -133 50.00%
Connecticut 298.4 237 -61.4 79.42%
Houston 422.5 195 -227.5 46.15%
Memphis 316.5 279 -37.5 88.15%
Total Defense Cincinnati Gained vs. Deviation from Avg. % Gained of Avg Allowed
Purdue 459.9 425 -34.9 92.41%
Illinois 481.5 456 -25.5 94.70%
Miami (OH) 484.3 369 -115.3 76.19%
USF 350.4 350 -0.4 99.89%
Temple 474.3 475 0.7 100.15%
Connecticut 396.2 525 128.8 132.51%
Memphis 355.5 437 81.5 122.93%
SMU 419.4 462 42.6 110.16%
Rutgers 429.2 619 189.8 144.22%
Houston 420 573 153 136.43%

Videos from the Week

My Prediction

This is a tight one.  The weather is still somewhat in doubt and how the conditions affect the game remains to be seen.  But I look at  it this way.  These are two great defenses, two pretty good offenses, Cincinnati is at home.

The Cards have the better defense and they have an experienced Quarterback who always rises in big spots.  Tonight is a big spot.  Also with UC’s turnover margin compared to Louisville’s and inability to kick field goals I think those two things together really widen a very narrow gap to allow for a Louisville victory.  Louisville 24- Cincinnati 13. 

The following two tabs change content below.
@UofLSheriff50. Louisville native, University of Louisville Business School Grad c/o 2004. Co-Founder of TheCrunchZone.com

TCZ Comments