The Keg of Nails is a traveling trophy awarded to the winner of the Universities of Louisville and Cincinnati since 1929 (or 1922, see important games below). The football rivalry stretches over the span of 4 conferences: the Missouri Valley Conference, Conference USA, the Big East, and the American Athletic Conference. It is the oldest rivalry for the University of Louisville football team and the second oldest for Cincinnati (the UC-Miami(OH) rivalry is older).
The trophy is believed to have been initiated by fraternity chapters on the UC and UofL campuses, signifying that the winning players in the game were "tough as nails." The present keg is actually a replacement for the original trophy, which was misplaced by Louisville during some construction. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
"The Missing Game" - The Louisville media guide lists the Keg of Nail series overall record as 22-30-1 with the first game occurring in 1922. The Cincinnati media guide, on the hand, date the start of the series as 1929 and lists the overall series record as 30-21-1. Louisville was scheduled to play Transylvania on Nov. 4, 1922 but the Lexington school cancelled the week prior to the contest. Cincinnati was scheduled to play West Virginia on that date but sent a "team of second-liners" to play Louisville. UofL defeated the UC reserves by a score of 28-0. Since this was a game against outside competition, Louisville is correct in counting it in its records. But since it was not a varsity contest for UC, Cincinnati is also correct in not recognizing it in its records.
"The Win" - 1970 marks the first varsity vs varsity victory for the Cardinals in the history of the series. UofL beat the Bearcats by a score of 28-14 in Cincinnati, OH. Prior to this game, UofL was 0-12 against Cincinnati (unless you count the 1922 game).
"The Tie" - The 1970 Keg of Nails game is the only tie in the history of the series. Louisville and Cincinnati ended the game with a score of 17-17. Since NCAA rules no longer allow for ties, it is likely that this game will be the only one in Keg of Nails history to end without a clear winner.
"The Shutout" - Over the course of the rivalry, the Bearcats have shut out the Cardinals seven times (1929, 1940, 1942, 1951, 1953, 1981, and 1987). UofL has returned the favor only once and that was in the 1980 Keg of Nails contest (unless you count the 1922 game). Louisville won the game 20-0.
"Keg in the Oven" - The first Keg of Nails game to be played in PJCS occurred in 1998. Chris Redman threw a school record 431 yards in the game (a record he later broke in the game against ECU). The score was 14-13 UofL at halftime before Redman did his thing against UC’s secondary. He threw a 48 yard TD, 18 yard TD, 11 yard TD and ran one in from 5 yards out. Final score ended up being 62-19.
"The Touchdown Bowl" - The game in 2003 was a fireworks show on offense. UofL. UofL blew a 21 point lead before LeFors threw a 54-yard touchdown pass with 1:10 remaining to seal the UofL victory 43-40. The final score represents the most combined points every scored in a Keg of Nails game.
"The Stomp" - The 2004 game is well remembered by fans of both teams. Prior to kickoff, Cincinnati players decided to stomp on the Louisville logo at midfield. Louisville responded by scoring an 80 yard TD run, a 72 yard punt return TD, two blocked punt return TDs, 3 more rushing TDs, and 3 passing TDs. The final score was 70-7, the largest margin of victory in Keg of Nails history.
- UC leads the overall series 30-21-1 (UC media guide) or 30-22-1 (Louisville media guide).
- Every game in Cincinnati has been played at Nippert Stadium with the exception of the 2011 matchup. That game was played in Paul Brown Stadium.
- Louisville won last year's meeting 34-31 in OT. UofL appeared to have botched the snap on the first OT FG attempt, but a timeout was called by Cincinnati before the play. UofL got to re-kick and won the game on the second FG attempt. The 2012 matchup is the only game thus far to go into overtime.
- UC has won four of the last five games against Louisville. Prior to the Bearcats four game win streak, Louisville had won won 9 of 10 games.
- The largest point difference in the series came in 2004 when Louisville defeated Cincinnati 70-7 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The smallest point difference, excluding ties, came in 1974 when Cincinnati defeated Louisville 7-6 in Cincinnati
- The large number of points scored in a game came in 2003 when Louisville and Cincinnati combined to score 83 points. UofL defeated Cincinnati 43-40. The fewest number of points scored in a game came in 1929 and 1940 when Cincinnati and Louisville combined for 7 points. Cincinnati defeated Louisville 7-0 in both games.
Notes for tonight's game
- UC is 9-2 overall and owns an identical 6-1 league record with Louisville. UC's sole lost on the season was to USF. The Bulls defeated the Bearcats 26-20 and did so without scoring an offensive touchdown in the game.
- UC is undefeated at home while UofL is undefeated on the road.
- UC is 15-1 in its last 16 games at Nippert, dating back to the home opener of the 2011 season against Austin Peay.
- The Louisville game marks UC’s 14th all-time Thursday night affair. The Bearcats are 11-2 all-time in Thursday night games, including an 8-0 mark at Nippert Stadium and a 1-0 advantage over Louisville
- The 2013 Keg of Nails game will be the last time UC and UofL meet on the football field for the foreseeable future. The game will be the 53rd varsity matchup in the series and will air live on ESPN.
- The Cardinals can earn a share of the American Athletic Conference regular-season title - it would be Louisville's third-consecutive regular-season crown - with a win over Cincinnati and a UCF loss to SMU.
- Cincinnati is still in the running for the American Athletic Conference’s Bowl Championship Series bid if the Bearcats beat Louisville Thursday, UCF loses to SMU Saturday, and UC is ranked higher than UCF in the final BCS standings.