|First meeting||October 2, 1929|
Cincinnati 7, Louisville 0
|Latest meeting||December 5, 2013|
Louisville 31, Cincinnati 24
|All-time series||Cincinnati leads, 30–22–1 (.575)|
|Largest victory||Louisville, 70–7 (2004)|
|Longest win streak||Cincinnati, 12 (1929–1969)|
|Current win streak||Louisville, 2 (2012–present)|
The Keg of Nails is a traveling trophy continuously-awarded to the winner of the American college football rivalry game between the Cincinnati Bearcats and Louisville Cardinals. The rivalry has stretched over the span of four conferences from the Missouri Valley Conference, to Conference USA, and more recently in the Big East Conference, which in 2013 was renamed to the American Athletic Conference. It is believed to be the oldest rivalry for the Louisville football team and the second oldest for Cincinnati, only behind the annual game with the Miami RedHawks.
The series was played sporadically before becoming an annual match up from 1966 to 2013, with only a brief hiatus from 1992 to 1996. The match-up gained more significance with the growth of both programs into the 2000s, primarily with the success under coaches John L. Smith and Bobby Petrino for Louisville and Mark Dantonio, Brian Kelly, and Butch Jones for Cincinnati. Both programs would challenge for and win titles during their shared time in Conference USA and the Big East.
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 and U of L 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, lost during some construction of office facilities. It is adorned with the logos of both schools and the scores of the series games.
November 28, 2003: The Cardinals came to Cincinnati in what would go down as a shootout on a snowy afternoon. The Bearcats and QB Gino Guidugli would overcome a 28-7 second quarter deficit and the team was ahead 40-35 with 2:20 remaining in the game. An impressive 54 yard touchdown pass by Stefan LeFors with 70 seconds left would be enough to help Louisville escape with a 43-40 victory. This was the final Keg of Nails game by Cincinnati head coach Rick Minter.
October 14, 2006:The Bearcats took an early lead in the game, but the No. 7 Cardinals led by head coach Bobby Petrino were able to score twice at the end of the half, including on a 1-yard pass by quarterback Brian Brohm, to take a 13-10 lead to halftime. Late in the fourth quarter, the Bearcats had a chance win with another pass in the endzone, however it was knocked down by Cardinal cornerback Gavin Smart to preserve the win. The Cardinals won 23-17 and continued their 15-game home winning streak.
November 14, 2008: The No. 22 Bearcats, searching for their first Keg of Nails victory in six seasons, came to Louisville to take on a struggling Cardinals team. Cincinnati quarterback Tony Pike exited the game with an injury in the fourth quarter. The former starter, replaced by Pike after breaking his leg, Dustin Grutza entered the game and led the game winning, seventy-two yard drive for the Bearcats to win the game 28–20. The Bearcats would go onto win their first Big East conference title.
December 5, 2013: In a prime time, Thursday night game the No. 16 Cardinals came into Nippert Stadium to play the No. 23 Bearcats. Teddy Bridgewater would have a fantastic game, in which he would lead Louisville to a 31–24 OT victory. This was the final game of the series for the foreseeable future.
|Cincinnati victories||Louisville victories||Tie games|
Wins by location
Wins by venue
|Old Cardinal Stadium||8||5||1|
|Paul Brown Stadium||1||0||0|
- KAY, JOE (2013). "Louisville, Cincinnati game all about the keg". nbc12.com. AP.
An old keg is the traveling trophy that goes to the winner of a long-standing Ohio River football rivalry.
- KAY, JOE (December 6, 2013). "Bridgewater, No. 19 Louisville beat Cincinnati". AP.
The Cardinals and Bearcats have played since 1929, a rivalry that developed its own trophy — the Keg of Nails — and a lot of close finishes.
- "Bearcats take on Louisville for 'Keg of Nails' Thursday". WLWT. December 5, 2013.
The keg doesn't actually contain nails. And nobody knows exactly who introduced it - a fraternity is the best guess. But the winner on Thursday will get to keep the memento of a rivalry that has been played since 1929 and has covered the Missouri Valley Conference, Conference USA, the Big East and the AAC.
- Vaughn, Austin R. (September 24, 2015). "Rivalry Interrupted: 10 great college football games we may never see again". NCAA.
This rivalry has streached across four conferences: the Missouri Valley Conference, the Metro Conference, Conference USA and the Big East.
- "Winsipedia - Cincinnati Bearcats vs. Louisville Cardinals football series history". winsipedia.
- Knupke, Gene (12 Mar 2006). Profiles of American / Canadian Sports Stadiums and Arenas. p. 444. ISBN 9781413498233.
- "LeFors guides Cards to comeback winn". espn.com. ESPN. 28 Nov 2003. Retrieved 26 Apr 2020.
- "Louisville holds off hard-charging Bearcats in Brohm's return". espn.com. ESPN. 14 Oct 2006. Retrieved 26 Apr 2020.
- "Pike throws for 250 yards, two scores as Cincinnati takes over first in Big East". espn.com. ESPN. 15 Nov 2008. Retrieved 26 Apr 2020.
- Tapp, Connor (5 Dec 2013). "Louisville vs. Cincinnati 2013 final score: No. 19 Cardinals beat Bearcats, 31-24, in overtime thriller". sbnation.com. SB Nation. Retrieved 26 Apr 2020.