For a long time, Western Kentucky and Louisville could call themselves rivals. But most recently the two programs have been strangers.
That changes at 6:30 p.m. CDT Saturday inside Cardinal Stadium where the Hilltoppers and Cardinals will face each other for the first time in 20 years. That contest marks the first of a three-game series that runs through 2020 with next year’s game scheduled to be played in Nashville and the third matchup scheduled to return to Louisville.
Here are a few notes on the series that stretches nearly a century long:
• The schools first played each other in football in 1922 in Louisville. Western Kentucky won 6-0.
• Western and Louisville played every year from 1922-1933. The Tops won seven straight in that stretch including victories of 58-0 and 45-0 in 1932 and 1933, respectively.
• The rivalry resumed in 1946 and the programs faced off nine times between then and 1961. From 1955-61, the Cardinals outscored WKU 103-0.
• There was only one meeting between 1962-81 – a 21-17 Western win in 1975 – before the series resumed in 1982. Over the next eight years U of L won all eight meetings by an average score of 38.1-12.5.
• Overall, the Cardinals have won nine straight against the Hilltoppers.
• Largest margin of victory in the series? WKU won 58-0 in 1932. Louisville’s 55-7 win in 1989 was its biggest win.
• Saturday will mark the second time the teams have met on Sept. 15, with U of L winning 19-0 on that date in 1959.
• There have been 10 shutouts in the series.
• Louisville has hosted WKU twice for homecoming – a 20-0 win in 1961 and 45-0 loss in 1933.
• Three games have been decided by just one point and have all been WKU wins – 7-6 in 1927, 7-6 in 1930 and 20-19 in 1946.
• Louisville has not played in Bowling Green since 1954.
• The last meeting between Louisville and Western Kentucky was in 1998. That game featured current Florida State and previous WKU coach Willie Taggart at quarterback for the Hilltoppers – he ran for 177 yards on 15 carries and was 5 of 9 passing for 54 yards. Jammie Kyle had 102 yards rushing on 11 carries for Western. Leroy Collins rushed for 154 yards and five touchdowns (still a Cardinal Stadium record and a U of L single-game record) for the Cardinals while Chris Redman was 36-for-46 passing for 474 yards and three touchdowns.
• Louisville coach and former WKU coach Bobby Petrino was the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator in that ’98 game.
• Western’s last win in the series came in 1975. That WKU team (11-2) went on to lose the Division II national championship game, 16-14, to Northern Michigan in Sacramento, Calif.
• The WKU record for kickoff return yards in a single game is held by Anthony Green – he totaled 209 in 1989 against Louisville.
Reliving the history of WKU-Louisville this morning. The last time the two teams met was in 1998 with Willie Taggart as the a Hilltoppers’ quarterback pic.twitter.com/uN0KrRHPPk— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) September 11, 2018
The largest margin of victory in the series came in 1932 when WKU beat Louisville 58-0 pic.twitter.com/yPRKtWMYYh— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) September 11, 2018
Louisville last played in Bowling Green way back in 1954, a 25-7 WKU win pic.twitter.com/658TcQw2NC— Chad Bishop (@MrChadBishop) September 11, 2018
— Follow WBKO sportswriter Chad Bishop on Twitter @MrChadBishop