LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It’s a pretty tired adage that comes out around this time of year, when coaches say during rivalry matches, “you throw the record books out.”
There is something to it. Obviously the intangibles surrounding a rivalry game impact the outcome in some cases. We all remember the kick six Iron Bowl, Christian Watford’s Wat-shot in Bloomington, and countless other incredible moments in collegiate rivalry lore.
But maybe in the case of this Governor’s Cup and the case of this Louisville team, don’t throw it out. These Cardinals saw zero ACC wins, Bobby Petrino’s firing and a 2-9 record headed into the season’s final week. But in a season such as this, the record is arguably important when evaluating the significance of the game.
Louisville is going in as the team with nothing to lose. No bowl game lies ahead, there’s not even bowl berth on the line. There’s not a spot in a conference championship game to consider or a player trying to bolster a Heisman case. This is it.
Kentucky has enjoyed one of the best seasons in recent program history, a quality bowl game lies ahead and they need to stay healthy. Everyone expects them to win, and many in Big Blue Nation will still celebrate the season regardless of the outcome on Saturday night.
But no matter what happens, when the sun comes up on Sunday morning, football season will be over in Louisville. And the Cardinals should play like it.
For the seniors, this Saturday will mark their final moments in a Cardinal uniform. For the team, Saturday will mean closing the book on the whirlwind of speculation and frustration surrounding the program. Saturday is the chance for redemption.
Dez Fitzpatrick remarked last week the team was viewing the Kentucky game as its bowl game, but it’s even more than that.
This is the final chance to get some positive out of what has been a negative fall.
This is a chance to show fans, naysayers and perhaps even a Louisville-native coaching candidate watching from West Lafayette, that this program is moving forward and on the rise after Petrino’s departure.
This has the potential to be the year that’s remembered by everyone in the Commonwealth as the year Louisville, multi-touchdown underdogs, shocked the sports world and reached above the ceiling of the team to claimed victory.
When they write the story of the 2018 Governor’s Cup, regardless of the outcome, the Cardinals losing record will be referenced towards the beginning of whatever recap it is. The way that sentence finishes, is largely up to UofL.
Saturday is the Cards' chance to have the final word.
Best-case scenario, they finish the season 3-9, a bad season by most any measure. And as has been evident in many games, when the team starts to go downhill, those on both sides of the ball become despondent and the only thing that rises is the margin of victory for the opposition.
To those Louisville players or fans entering this weekend discouraged, wondering if it matters how a man, or a team falls down, when the fall is all that’s left, it matters a great deal.