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The history of “Go Cards, Beat Purdue”

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Now we’re bringing it to the gridiron.

NCAA Football: Purdue at Michigan State Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

During the 1980s, a recurring event during Louisville basketball games at Freedom Hall was the Cardinal cheerleaders leading the fans in a chant that included both U of L and the team on the opposite bench.

The cheerleaders would show a card with one word to one of the four sections of the crowd, and that section would shout the word on the card in unison. Three of the cards were always the same. The first one said "Go," the second "Cards," and the third "Beat." The fourth card, as you may have already deduced, always had the name of the team Louisville was planning. Not the most groundbreaking of cheers, sure, but the people enjoyed it.

On Dec. 7, 1985, Louisville played its first home game of the season and claimed a 77-58 win over Purdue that seemed relatively forgettable at the time. What transpired afterward, however, would etch the game in Cardinal lore forever.

U of L was back inside Freedom Hall three days later for another early season matchup, and much to the delight of the home crowd, the Cardinals were having their way with visiting Iona. With Louisville comfortably ahead and a timeout on the floor, it was time for the cheerleaders to lead the spectators in the familiar cheer.

The first three parts of the performance went off without a hitch, but when it came time for the grand finale, there was a problem. The opponent card had not been switched out from the previous game. The result was that 19,000 highly-amused fans inside Freedom Hall screamed Go! Cards! Beat! PURDUE! before anyone on the court could figure out what was going on and make the proper adjustment.

There was no similar faux pas the next time the Cardinals played inside Freedom Hall. The fourth card very clearly read "Western Kentucky." And yet, the cheer remained the same - Go! Cards! Beat! PURDUE!

It was apparent then that this was going to be an issue.

For the rest of the season -- which would end with Louisville winning its second national championship -- Cardinal fans would ignore the name of the opponent that was actually in their building and cheer for the home team to defeat Purdue. The cheer never ceased to elicit looks of bewilderment from the visiting players, coaches and fans, and continued to do so until the U of L spirit groups finally gave in and stopped trying to make the cheer happen in its proper form.

Gone, but never forgotten, the cheer made a triumphant return on March 6, 2010, when Louisville played its final game at Freedom Hall before moving into the new KFC Yum! Center. The opponent was No. 1 Syracuse, and the game was one the up-and-down Cardinals desperately needed to win, but with 7:23 remaining in the first half, the cheer was the same.

Go Cards. Beat Purdue.