LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 17: Jeremy Wright #28 of the Louisville Cardinals runs with the ball while defended by Ridge Wilson #48 of the Kentucky Wildcats during the game at Commonwealth Stadium on September 17, 2011 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
It's tricky sometimes to figure out the inflection points in a rivalry that tends to feature long runs by one side or another. And the Kentucky-Louisville rivalry has certainly had its share of dominant periods by each team -- even if the sample size is smaller than you might think for a cross-state rivalry, with the Wildcats and the Cardinals meeting just 24 times in their histories.
Kentucky, for example, won the first seven games in the series -- though that includes several games in the 1910s and 1920s and the last victory was after a 70-year gap that started in 1924. But after UK's initial win in 1994, when the teams began meeting annually, it quickly became a Louisville affair; the Cardinals won nine of the next 12 games, including four victories by 26 points or more.
Then, in 2007, things changed. One of those things was undoubtedlygoing to the NFL, but for whatever reason, the fundamentals of the rivalry shifted almost overnight, and Kentucky won four straight under Rich Brooks and Joker Phillips. The Cardinals were sinking in the Big East and Kentucky was at least developing into an average SEC team, and Big Blue had all the momentum.
Until last season. Charlie Strong finally engineered a 24-17 victory for Louisville in the series, part of a strong year that catapulted Louisville to the preseason favorite in the Big East for the first time since 2005. Kentucky is not the preseason favorite for much of anything, except maybe on the list of SEC teams most likely to be calling Petrino in late December.
So the question is whether last year was a blip on the radar in a lengthy Kentucky run or the beginning of a Louisville winning streak. Given the way things are headed in Lexington right now, the smart money has to be on the latter.
Louisville 31, Kentucky 24