Nice article Mike. I agree with your general point that this rivalry has oddly lacked games that made the country stop and say "wow - did you see that game!?!" Maybe that is further proof that regardless of what others say about players not recognizing the importance of rivalry games - they still can feel it. I don't really know how else to explain the general sense that Louisville vs. Kentucky is always this gut-wrenching, labored pace of a ball game that leaves at least one, often both fan bases wanting.
However, I disagree with the notion there that there has not been 1 great game in the modern era outside of the Dream Game. The game I would like to highlight as the best of the series in my lifetime happened the year most great things happen,1995, taking place in Freedom Hall on New Year's Day. The only thing poorly executed was the joke at the beginning about Nantz and Packer showing up late.
UK was loaded compared to Louisville. That lineup included four starting juniors - Tony Delk, Rodrick Rhodes, Walter McCarty, and Mark Pope, joined by sophomore starter Jeff Sheppard - and tons of young talent, including Antoine Walker. Louisville was led by sophomore DeJuan Wheat, and was a generally young team that included Samaki Walker, Jason Osborne, Tick Rogers, Brian Kiser, B.J. Flynn and Damien Dantzler - not to mention Beau Zach Smith. Some definite mid-90s fan favorites on each team.
Freshman Samaki Walker recorded a triple double (!), and DeJuan Wheat showcased all the reasons he is still my all-time favorite cardinal (Russ - you got a chance). Denny Crum displayed some of the greatest coaching of his career, benching Wheat for 4 minutes late in the second half to make sure he had the legs to close the game out was gutsy and BRILLIANT. Transfer BJ Flynn filled in admirably and had several Hollywood flops to keep the game in check until Wheat came back in and controlled the game. Watching this full game you see what a point guard like Wheat was able to bring to a game - and you just wish he had Samaki a little longer.
I've re-watched this game at least a dozen times. It is my all-time favorite in my collection. UK's shorts didn't help their chances at victory. Enjoy.
1995 - Louisville vs #5 Kentucky - Full Game (via upfromtheashes)