The ten most memorable Louisville/West Virginia games

Here's hoping Strong can get the football rivalry back to pulling its weight.

10. 11/7/09: West Virginia 17, Louisville 9

Will Stein started at quarterback. There's your memory.

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9. 11/22/08: West Virginia 35, Louisville 21

AKA: "Pat White's Final Nightmare."

White rushed for 200 yards, broke the NCAA record for rushing yards by a quarterback, and accounted for four total touchdowns - including runs of 66, 43 and 7 yards - while terrorizing Louisville for the final time.

White finished his college career with 1,115 yards of total offense -- 541 rushing, 574 passing -- and 12 total touchdowns in four games against the Cardinals.

"I guess I've been pretty successful against them, I've been fortunate," White said afterward.

On his final touchdown, White, whose breakout game came as a freshman against U of L, barked at Cardinal defenders and walked into the endzone shouting "catch me." It was also really cold.

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8. 1/31/10: West Virginia 77, Louisville 74

The game that resulted in two officials being banned from the Big East Tournament six weeks later.

Here's my even-keeled(?) response in the minutes immediately following this travesty:

Louisville leads by a point with less than 25 seconds to play as Joe Mazzulla drives toward the basket. Mazzulla is accidentally tripped by Rock Buckles and the ball goes off of his head and out-of-bounds. No foul is called on Buckles, and the ball is awarded back to West Virginia.

Devin Ebanks sinks a jumper to put the Mountaineers up one.

On the other end, Reggie Delk attempts a three-pointer from the corner and is knocked to the ground. In a game where 46 fouls were called and the home team shot 35 free-throws, no whistle was blown. Delk's shot bounces off the rim and appears to be knocked out-of-bounds by West Virginia's Ebanks. The ball is not awarded to Louisville right away, however, because referee Mike Kitts was ducking to (apparently) avoid potentially being hit with the ball instead of watching the action of the floor, a move which goes against every training basketball officials on any level receive.

Instead of deferring to the possession arrow (which belonged to Louisville), the officials head to the scorer's table to review the play, blatantly disregarding the officials' rule book.

Rule 7, Section 3, article 1, section b

Section 3. Ball Touched Simultaneously/Officials’ Doubt


Art. 1. Play shall be resumed by use of the alternating-possession arrow when the ball goes out of bounds and:
a. Was last touched simultaneously by two opponents, both of whom are in bounds or out of bounds.
b. When the officials are in doubt as to who last touched the ball

The officials review the tape and somehow find conclusive evidence that the ball was last touched by a Louisville player. West Virginia makes two free-throws and the Cardinals miss a three-point attempt at the buzzer.

Another Louisville collapse in a game it desperately needed, another egregious error(s) by an officiating crew with the game on the line; it's all just a little too much to process right now. 

This is the most upset I can remember being after a game in a long, long time.

Still pissed.

7. 11/8/07: West Virginia 38, Louisville 31

I swear we win some of these.

A struggling 5-4 Cardinal team nearly went on the road and ruined the sixth-ranked Mountaineers' national title hopes, but Pat White rumbled 50 yards for the eventual game-winning touchdown with 1:36 to play.

The win was especially sweet for White, who claimed afterward that U of L linebacker Preston Smith spat in his face during the third quarter. The allegation led to subsequent denials by both Smith and Louisville head coach Steve Kragthorpe.

6. 3/7/09: Louisville 62, West Virginia 59

One of the best sports days I can remember.

The weather was unseasonably warm and Ms. CC and friends were vacationing in California (no way she reads this far in). I woke up around 9, went to the gas station to grab some beer, airheads and burgers, and then drove over to the Card Chronicle Compound to watch Gameday (which was in Morgantown) with friends.

The day started with a lively open thread for the Pitt/UConn game at noon. The Panther victory ensured that Louisville would be playing for an outright Big East title that evening. I was excited. Other people were excited as well.

We then grilled out, watched Kentucky lose to Florida (again) and prepped for the evening's events.

Despite a raucous crowd, Louisville held off the Mountaineers in the final minutes and claimed its first Big East title with a 62-59 win. Terrence Williams, in standard T-Will fashion, led the Cards in scoring (20), rebounding (6), assists (7), and steals (6).

The night ended with one of the greatest pictures ever taken:

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Earl Clark, ladies and gentlemen.

5. 3/9/07: Louisville 82, West Virginia 71 (2OT)

After inexplicably not being paired against one another in the regular season, the Cards and 'Eers met in the quarterfinals of the Big East Tournament, presumably with West Virginia's NCAA Tournament fate on the line. Like so many others in this rivalry, the game was chock-full of controversy.

WVU used an 18-0 run in the second half to erase a 17-point deficit, and Darris Nichols' runner with 4.3 seconds left to make the score 58-56 looked for a moment like it might be the decisive basket. But then freshman point guard Edgar Sosa got the ball in his hands and went the length of the court to beat the buzzer with an overtime-inducing lay-up. Some Mountaineer fans said Sosa walked, others said that the clock didn't start when he touched the ball, but the play stood and the Cards ultimately prevailed two overtimes later.

Louisville would go onto earn a six seed in the NCAA Tournament while West Virginia was relegated to the NIT.

4. 10/9/93: West Virginia 36, Louisville 34

For any rivalry to be truly heated, there has to be at least a little bit of ancient history. This game, a 9-7 U of L win a year earlier, and a quartet of Mountaineer blowouts in the '80s is about as ancient as this feud gets.

The Jeff Brohm-led Cardinals brought a perfect 5-0 record into Morgantown to take on an equally unblemished Mountaineer squad. Tailback Robert Walker rushed for 161 yards and three scores as WVU used two late Cardinal turnovers to turn a 21-10 deficit into a 36-34 victory. U of L would go on to beat Michigan State in the Liberty Bowl, while West Virginia ran the table in the regular season before being blown out by Florida in the Sugar Bowl.

In a box somewhere there's a tape of a very young - but very serious and professional - me giving my depressed thoughts on the game as part of a low-budget/high-content news show I used to run. If I remember correctly, that commentary segued into a groundbreaking exposé that revealed what our Bulldog Spike was doing to make me mad.

The ratings were never great, but it was a tremendous achievement for (my living room's) television. The Wire of the early '90s you might say.

3. 10/15/05: West Virginia 46, Louisville 44 (3OT)

With Louisville having already suffered a stunning blowout loss at the hands of South Florida and West Virginia coming into the game unranked, the first gridiron meeting between these two as members of the Big East didn't have nearly the hype as most of the other games on this list, which is a shame since it very well may have been the most exciting.

Brian Brohm and Michael Bush helped Louisville to a 24-7 third quarter lead, causing some of the blue and gold faithful to head for the exits, a move they would eventually lament. Freshman quarterback Pat White took over for the injured Adam Bednarik in the fourth quarter, and he and fellow freshman running back Steve Slaton proved to be a duo the Cardinal defense had no answer for.

Slaton would finish the game with 188 yards rushing and a school-record six touchdowns, the last of which helped to put the Mountaineers up eight in the third overtime. After a Bush touchdown, safety Eric Wicks tackled a scrambling Brohm on the two-point conversion try to secure the victory.

Controversy, yet again, marred the aftermath of the game as Louisville backers claimed West Virginia had utilized an illegal onside kick following a touchdown in the fourth quarter. The Big East acknowledged that an error had been made and issued a formal apology two days later.

The Mountaineers would not lose the rest of the season, and capped the year off with an upset win over SEC champion Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. The Cardinals would win their five remaining regular season games, but fall to Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl.

2. 11/2/06: Louisville 44, West Virginia 34

Designated as the Big East's "End Game" since early that summer, West Virginia and Louisville entered this Thursday night clash with equal records, top five rankings, and national title aspirations. With No. 1 Ohio State and No. 2 Michigan set to play each other in three weeks, the popular opinion became that whoever prevailed inside Papa John's Cardinal Stadium would be four wins away from a birth in the national championship game.

The build-up during game week was like none other the Derby City had ever seen. Fans dressed in black and arrived at the stadium to tailgate/mentally prepare in the wee hours of the afternoon. They would not be disappointed.

In the game he'd been playing in his mind since he was a child, Brian Brohm was sensational, connecting on 19-of-26 passes for 354 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals also used a Malik Jackson fumble return for a touchdown and a Trent Guy punt return for a score to capture arguably the biggest victory in program history.

Louisville's national title hopes were crushed one week later when they lost a 28-25 contest at Rutgers. Still, the memory of a sea of black swarming midfield with fireworks exploding in the background will live forever in the hearts of Cardinal fans and the minds of Mountaineer fans.

1. 3/6/05: Louisville 93, West Virginia 85 (OT)

The rivalry's official anniversary, and likely still its most memorable game

Led by Kevin Pittsnoggle (God that sign) and Mike Gansey, the Mountaineers put on insane exhibition from beyond the arc and jumped out to a 20-point first-half lead. The Cardinals used a furious second-half rally to get back in the game, but leading scorer Francisco Garcia fouled out with four minutes remaining, and second leading scorer Taquan Dean was forced to leave the game multiple times with cramps. The game was put on the shoulders of home-grown senior Larry O'Bannon, who scored two of his 24 points on a driving lay-up to tie the game and ultimately send it to overtime.

Dean, O'Bannon and senior captain Ellis Myles completed the stunning comeback by outscoring the exhausted Mountaineers 16-8 in the extra frame. Rick Pitino became the first coach in history to guide three different schools to the Final Four as the Cards advanced to the national semifinals for the first time since 1986.


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