GAME DAY: Cincinnati vs. Louisville

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Cincinnati (6-4, 5-2) at Louisville (8-1, 6-0)
Saturday, November 27, 2004
2:35 p.m. EDT.
Papa John's Cardinal Stadium (42,000)
Louisville, KY.
Television: ESPN-2
Radio: 840-AM WHAS
Series Notes
Louisville and Cincinnati will meet for the 45th time in school history on Saturday, November 27. The Bearcats hold a 26-17-1 series advantage, but the Cardinals have won five of the last six meetings between the two schools. The Cardinals won 43-40 last season at Nippert Stadium. The Bearcats defeated Louisville, 24-14, in 2002 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. Cincinnati is 10-9-1 all-time versus the Cardinals in Louisville.
Series Record
Overall ............................................................. Cincinnati leads 26-17-1
Series Record in Louisville .................................... Cincinnati leads 10-9-1
Last Meeting ..................................................... November 27, 2003; UL 43, UC 40,
Last Meeting in Louisville ..................................... 2002; UC 24, UL 14
Stefan LeFors threw a 54-yard touchdown pass to J.R. Russell with 1:10 remaining to rally Louisville to a 43-40 win over Cincinnati on Nov. 27, 2003 at Nippert Stadium. The see-saw contest saw the lead change hands three times in the fourth quarter. Cincinnati, which began the second half trailing by two TDs, scored 17 points to take a 31-28 lead early in the fourth quarter. Louisville regained the advantage 15 seconds later but the Bearcats regained the lead, 40-35, with 2:20 remaining.
Last Time in Louisville
DeMarco McCleskey rushed for two fourth-quarter touchdowns to lift Cincinnati to a 24-14 win over Louisville on Nov. 7, 2002 in Louisville. Antwan Peek returned a fumble 15 yards for UC’s first score, early in the third quarter. Louisville took a 14-7 lead by returning the ensuing kickoff for a touchdown but the Bearcats took control from that point. McCleskey, who finished with 82 yards, scored on a pair of 1-yard plunges and Jonathan Ruffin added a clinching field goal.
Keg of Nails
The winner of Saturday’s game gets the Keg of Nails, one of the more unique rivalry trophies with a somewhat vague origin. The trophy is a replica of a keg used to ship nails. The exchange is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC of UofL campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were “tough as nails.” The present keg is actually a replacement for the original award, which was misplaced by Louisville, ironically lost during some construction of office facilities. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
Cards Lead Conference
Louisville has played outstanding football in Conference USA this season, racing out to a 6-0 record —its first 6-0 start since the 2001 season. The Cardinals are dominating every statistical category as Louisville is first in nine different categories. The Cardinals led the league in: rushing offense, passing offense, scoring offense, total offense, rushing defense, total defense, scoring defense, turnover margin and passing efficiency. The Cardinals are averaging 54.7 ppg in six league contests this season. Louisville is averaging 581.7 yards of total offense this year against C-USA teams, including 356.7 yards through the air. Louisville has out-scored their opponents, 328-141, including 176-71 in the second half. Senior quarterback Stefan LeFors has been virtually unstoppable, throwing for 1,573 yards and 12 touchdowns, compiling a 195.55 efficiency rating. The southpaw from Baton Rouge, La., is completing 75.2 percent of his throws and has tossed just one pick in 141 attempts.
Shelton Threatens Scoring Mark
Junior running back Eric Shelton has a nose for the end zone. Shelton scored three more touchdowns to give him 16, which is the fourth highest mark by a running back in school history. He needs just five more scores in his last three games to break Lenny Lyles mark of 20, which he set back in 1957. The most incredible stat is that Shelton has scored 16 times on just 100 carries. The junior from Lexington, Ky., has scored 96 points and is sixth in the country in scoring, averaging 10.67 points per game. He’s fourth all-time in school history in points scored in a season, following Lenny Lyles (120), Leroy Collins (114) and Frank Moreau (102).
Shout-out to the Seniors
The 2004 senior class begins this season as one of the winningest classes in the history of U of L football. This group owns a 35-13 mark and are bowl eligible for the fourth straight season. The 2003 class set the mark for wins when they wrapped up their careers with a 36-15 record. The 2004 senior class: Ray Childs, Antwan Denson, Domonique Dunbar, Lionel Gates, Antoine Harris, J.T. Haskins, Jon Jackerson, Brent Johnson, Marcus Jones, Tiger Jones, Bobby Leffew, Stefan LeFors, Adam McCauley, Robert McCune, Will Rabatin, Kerry Rhodes, J.R. Russell.
Cardinals Try For Eighth Straight League Win
The Cardinals are looking for their eighth straight Conference USA win this week when the Cardinals face Cincinnati. The Cards haven’t lost a league game since falling to Memphis, 37-7 on Nov. 14 last year. The streak is the second longest in school history, as the Cardinals won 10 straight during the 2000 season and it continued through 2001. The Cards are looking for their seventh C-USA win, which would be the most in school history. The Cardinals won six in 2000 and 2001, the last two times they won league championships.
Big Play Wide Receivers
The Cardinal passing game is rapidly becoming one of the best in the country thanks to the big-play ability of their wide receivers. The Cardinals are averaging 14.1 yards a reception, which is 11th in the country. Louisville has eight players who are averaging over 13.0 yards a reception. Junior Broderick Clark leads the group with a 17.3 yard average, while senior Tiger Jones is second at 16.7 yards a reception. Junior Montrell Jones has quietly averaged 16.3 yards a catch and junior Joshua Tinch has lifted his average to 15.2 yards a reception. Louisville has six players on the team with 10 or more catches and five players who have 200 or more yards of receiving. Kolby Smith, a running back, has a 16.8 yard average this season.
Game Breakdown
The University of Cincinnati closes regular season football play on Saturday with a visit to Conference USA leader and Top 10-ranked Louisville at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. Kickoff has been moved to 2:30 p.m. EST to accommodate a national telecast by ESPN2.
Louisville, 8-1, is ranked No. 7 in this week’s Associated Press poll and No. 8 by ESPN/USA Today. The Cardinals have already clinched at least a tie for the C-USA title and are 6-0 in league play.
Cincinnati, 6-4, rides a four-game winning streak into Saturday’s game. The Bearcats are tied with UAB for second place in C-USA, both teams with 5-2 records.
The game will be the 44th meeting of the regional rivals, who will battle for one of college football’s most unusual trophies, the Keg of Nails. Cincinnati owns a 26-16-1 lead in the series, but Louisville has walked away with the Keg from five of the last six games.
Louisville boasts the nation’s No. 1 offense. The Cardinals are averaging 543.4 yards per game total offense, tops in the country, and 47.6 points, which ranks second nationally. Quarterback Stefan LeFors leads the nation in passing efficiency and is No. 22 in total offense.
Cincinnati has been posting impressive offensive numbers. During their four-game win streak, the Bearcats have averaged 460.3 yards and 41.8 points. UC ranks 20th in total offense, averaging 428.2 yards for the season.
Gino Guidugli has played a major role in Cincinnati’s offensive production. The senior quarterback has completed .708 percent of his passes (75 of 106) for 1,022 yards and 12 TDs for a passing efficiency of 189.1 during the win streak. Guidugli is No. 17 nationally in passing efficiency and No. 28 in total offense. However, Guidugli broke his hand earlier in the week and could play a limited role in Saturday's contest.
UC rushing leader Richard Hall needs 112 yards in Saturday’s game to become the 13th Bearcat to reach the 1,000-yard mark. Hannibal Thomas needs 90 yards to become the fourth Cincinnati player to get 1,000 receiving yards. Gino Guidugli is one TD pass away from the UC single season record of 25.
Saturday’s game will be the final for both schools as members of Conference USA. Next year, Cincinnati and Louisville begin play in the BIG EAST.