Mark Story

In UK-U of L rivalry, 2018-19 has produced a surprising role reversal

If we were applying a movie title as a theme for the 2018-19 Kentucky Wildcats-Louisville Cardinals all-sports rivalry, it would be “Trading Places.”

Since I began doing these year-end audits of the Cats-Cards head-to-head outcomes with the 2013-14 school year, the storyline has been fairly consistent.

Other than basketball, Louisville has tended to have the upper hand in men’s sports; conversely, Kentucky had held a strong advantage in women’s sports in every prior year.

In 2018-19, that script has flipped in a big way.

Even with U of L’s two-game season sweep of UK in baseball, Kentucky went 4-2 overall vs. the Cardinals in men’s sports this school year. The Cats bested the Cards in basketball, football, soccer and scored a breakthrough victory in swimming.

However, in a major departure from form, Louisville claimed the edge this year in women’s sports.

The Cardinals women went 3-2 vs. Kentucky, winning in basketball, soccer and scoring an upset win in softball Wednesday night, while UK was victorious in swimming and volleyball.

Overall, Kentucky holds a narrow 6-5 advantage in 2018-19 in head-to-head athletic contests against Louisville.

Rivalry ‘MVPs’

If superlatives were awarded to the players and coaches who made the most dramatic impact this year on our state’s marquee sports rivalry, they would look like this:

Kentucky men’s sports rivalry MVP: Terry Wilson, football. While directing UK to a 56-10 obliteration of U of L at Cardinal Stadium on Nov. 24, the Wildcats’ quarterback played the best game of his Kentucky career to date. Wilson threw for 261 yards and three touchdowns and ran for 79 yards and a score and brought the Howard Schnellenberger MVP Award home.

Louisville’s men’s sports rivalry MVP: Jake Snider, baseball. The junior left fielder went 2-of-4 from the plate with three RBI in the Cardinals’ 8-3 win over UK in Louisville on April 2. The Champaign, Ill., product came back to go 3-of-5 with an RBI and a run scored in the Cards’ 18-6 victory against the Cats on Tuesday night at Kentucky Proud Park.

Kentucky women’s sports rivalry MVP: Asia Seidt, swimming. Leading UK to victory over U of L for a second straight year, the Sacred Heart Academy product again lit up her hometown school by winning the 100 backstroke, the 100 butterfly and the 200 individual medley.

170121_UK Swim_MM_18600
Kentucky’s Asia Seidt celebrated after winning the 100 backstroke in UK's dual-meet victory over Louisville on Jan. 26. It was one of three individual victories for the Sacred Heart Academy graduate against her hometown school.

Louisville women’s sports rivalry MVP: Asia Durr, basketball. The U of L senior star rifled in 32 points in the Cardinals’ 80-75 victory over UK on Dec. 9. During Louisville’s current three-game winning streak versus Kentucky, the 5-foot-10 guard from Douglasville, Ga., has averaged 26.3 points.

Asia Durr.JPG
During Louisville's three-game win streak vs. Kentucky, Cardinals star Asia Durr has averaged 26.3 points a game. Kathy Willens AP

Kentucky rivalry coach of the year: Lars Jorgensen, swimming. A year after Jorgensen coached the UK women to their first victory over U of L since 2009, he led the Wildcats men to a 157.5-142.5 win over the Cardinals. That snapped a 10-year Kentucky losing streak to Louisville.

Louisville rivalry coach of the year: Holly Aprile, softball. Inheriting a U of L program that had lost seven of its prior eight games to Kentucky, the first-year head coach led the Cards to a dramatic, 8-7 walk-off victory over the No. 24 Cats on Wednesday night.

Rivalry trends

As the second decade of the 21st century nears its end, it seemed a good time to gauge how the UK-U of L head-to-head rivalry is trending by sport.


Baseball: Louisville is 15-8 vs. UK since 2010, including 3-0 in NCAA Tournament contests. The Cards have won 10 of the past 12 games against the Cats.

Basketball: Kentucky is 10-2 vs. Louisville since 2010, including 2-0 in NCAA Tournament meetings. UK has won six of the last seven games against U of L.

Calipari and Mack
Kentucky Coach John Calipari and Louisville Coach Chris Mack shook hands before UK's 71-58 victory over U of L in the KFC Yum Center on Dec. 29. Calipari is 10-2 as Wildcats head man against the Cardinals. Mark Mahan

Football: Louisville is 6-3 vs. Kentucky since 2010, but the Wildcats have claimed the Governor’s Cup in two of the past three seasons.

UK with the Governor's Cup
Kentucky football players celebrated with the Governor’s Cup after UK applied a 56-10 pasting on Louisville at Cardinal Stadium on Nov. 24. Alex Slitz

Soccer: The Cats and Cards are 3-3-1 head-to-head since 2010, but UK is 2-0-1 in the past three meetings.

Swimming: Kentucky’s victory this year over Louisville snapped a 10-year Wildcats losing streak in dual meets vs. the Cardinals.


Basketball: Kentucky is 6-4 vs. Louisville since 2010, but U of L has won three straight over UK.

Mitchell and Walz
Louisville Coach Jeff Walz, left, and Kentucky Coach Matthew Mitchell joked before a game. After Mitchell and UK won five straight over U of L from 2011-12 through 2015-16, Walz and the Cardinals have now beaten the Wildcats three in a row. Jonathan Palmer

Soccer: The Wildcats are 6-3 against the Cardinals since 2010, but U of L has won the past two meetings.

Softball: Louisville is 9-8 vs. Kentucky since 2010, but, even with this year’s upset loss at U of L, the Wildcats have won seven of the last nine.

Swimming: Kentucky has won the past two dual meets vs. Louisville after losing the prior eight years vs. the Cards.

Volleyball: UK is 8-1 vs. U of L since 2010 and has won the past six meetings.

Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.