BOZICH | Bobby Petrino's domination of Kentucky by the numbers - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Bobby Petrino's domination of Kentucky by the numbers

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – It started with a six-yard touchdown run by Eric Shelton less than six minutes into Bobby Petrino's first game against Kentucky as the University of Louisville head football coach. That was Aug. 31, 2003 in Commonwealth Stadium.

It ended with a four-yard touchdown run by Anthony Allen less than four minutes from the finish of Petrino's fourth and final game against the Wildcats as the Cardinals' head coach on Sept. 3, 2006 at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.

The record shows it was 240 minutes of mostly complete one-sided domination.

It was a memory so powerful that it became a top reason Louisville fans were eager to welcome Petrino as Charlie Strong's replacement last January, even though he had left Louisville for the NFL after that 2006 season.

If you heard some Kentucky fans chirping that the Wildcats should have considered Petrino as the replacement for Joker Phillips in 2012, you know the reason.

Four games, four wins.

Louisville scored in 14 of 16 quarters, overwhelming the Wildcats by a combined 82 points.

The Cards scored at least two touchdowns in half of the 16 quarters.

Petrino's teams outgained the Wildcats by a combined 711 yards while making 36 more first downs.

The Cardinals never trailed. Not even for one of the 14,400 seconds his four U of L teams played against the Wildcats.

Their smallest halftime lead? Seven points.

Their largest halftime lead? Try 21.

Their average halftime lead? Two touchdowns, 14 points.

A Louisville back – Shelton in 2003, Lionel Gates in 2004 and Michael Bush in 2005 and 2006 – ran for at least 112 yards in every game.

Two wins quarterbacked by Stefan LeFors, two more by Brian Brohm.

Defenses led by Kerry Rhodes, Robert McCune, Elvis Dumervil, Brandon Johnson and Nate Harris.

Rich Brooks, the Kentucky coach, was so determined to win something in the rivalry that in 2007 he moved the game from the opening week of the schedule to week three. He won the scheduling battle.

And Kentucky won the next game, 40-34.

But that Louisville team was coached by Steve Kragthorpe, who whiffed in three cracks against the Wildcats, quickly losing the confidence of the Cardinals' fan base.

Charlie Strong lost his first game to UK, but rallied to win the last three in the series. Now Petrino takes the handoff, trying to make it a Louisville four-peat for only the second time since the schools started playing annually in 1994.

Petrino lost to the Wildcats while he was working at Arkansas.

Better repeat that: Brooks and Kentucky beat Petrino and Arkansas, 21-20, during the 2008 season in Lexington.

But Petrino opened his career at Western Kentucky by beating Mark Stoops and UK last season, 35-26. He's beaten Kentucky more -- five times -- than any other program Petrino has played.

I asked Petrino if that was simply the way the games unfolded, whether he had better players than Kentucky during that stretch or for any other explanation for the 21 touchdowns, three field goals and one safety his Louisville teams delivered while beating the Wildcats.

“I think we had good football teams,” he said. “We had good players. We knew how to compete and play hard.

“Unfortunately, that doesn't help us in this game at all.

“But our players prepared hard for the game. It meant a lot to them. We had some guys on our team from the city of Louisville who I think did a great job of getting everybody else ready to play and understand how big the rivalry really is.”

Bobby Petrino also knows how big this rivalry really is. He showed it four times.

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