2022 Fenway Bowl: 3 things to know before Louisville football takes on Cincinnati

For the first time in nearly a decade, Louisville football and Cincinnati will play each other on the gridiron.

This time, though, the venue will be on a neutral site. The Cardinals and Bearcats are set to face off in the Fenway Bowl at 11 a.m. Dec. 17 at Fenway Stadium in Boston. The last time the two teams met in the Keg of Nails rivalry clash, U of L downed Cincinnati on the road in overtime 31-24 on Dec. 5, 2013. The next year, Louisville joined the ACC and the two teams never played again.

A bowl game now brings the two schools, which are about 100 miles apart, back together again — played more than 700 miles away. Cincinnati will be playing without head coach Luke Fickell, who left to become Wisconsin's next head football coach. Bearcats cornerbacks coach and special teams coordinator Kerry Coombs will serve as the interim coach in the meantime.

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Here are three things to know about the upcoming Fenway Bowl contest:

Cincinnati vs. Louisville series history

Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant (6) talks to the offensive unit before the team’s first possession in the first quarter during a college football game against the Navy Midshipmen, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant (6) talks to the offensive unit before the team’s first possession in the first quarter during a college football game against the Navy Midshipmen, Saturday, Nov. 5, 2022, at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati.

The Cardinals trail in the series against Cincinnati, which dates back almost a century ago, 30-22-1. The first-ever meeting was held Oct. 2, 1929 in Louisville, though Cincinnati won 7-0. The Cardinals were shut out in the first three meetings and didn’t get their first win over Cincinnati until Nov. 14, 1970, via a 28-14 decision.

In recent history, though, Louisville won the final two games in 2012 and 2013, both of which went into overtime. Former Cardinals quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, now with the Miami Dolphins, threw for 416 yards and two touchdowns in the team’s 34-31 overtime win over Cincy in 2012. John Wallace kicked a 30-yard field goal to win the game, while current New England Patriots wide receiver DeVante Parker caught both TD passes from Bridgewater and ended the game with 120 yards on four receptions.

Bridgewater and Parker were money again the next year with the QB recording 255 passing yards and three scores and Parker catching two TD passes, ending the game with nine catches for 104 yards.

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Who’s playing for Louisville?

Louisville’s Tiyon Evans runs for a touchdown against James Madison. Nov. 5, 2022
Louisville’s Tiyon Evans runs for a touchdown against James Madison. Nov. 5, 2022

After the 26-13 regular-season finale loss to Kentucky, U of L coach Scott Satterfield said he planned to have one-on-one meetings with players last week and discuss things like transferring and opting out of the bowl.

As of now, Louisville hasn’t had anyone do the latter. Running back Tiyon Evans declared for the NFL draft via Twitter on Friday, but his announcement didn’t mention whether he would play in the bowl. The South Carolina native missed the Cardinals’ last game of the regular season, although no reason was given for his absence from the Governor’s Cup contest.

The only players currently expected to miss are those who have entered the transfer portal, which includes running backs Trevion Cooley and Jalen Mitchell as well as linebacker K.J. Cloyd. That leaves Louisville in decent shape as neither of the three saw significant playing time during the latter part of the season.

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One last stand

Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah and Dorian Jones sacked James Madison’s Percy Agyei-Obesse.Nov. 5, 2022
Louisville’s Yasir Abdullah and Dorian Jones sacked James Madison’s Percy Agyei-Obesse.Nov. 5, 2022

U of L’s defense closed out the season No. 2 in the country in sacks with 43, third in turnovers forced (28), tied for fourth in fumble recoveries (13) and No. 10 in red zone defense. The unit will have one more opportunity to put on a show against a pass-heavy Cincinnati team. Bearcats quarterback Ben Bryant ended the regular season averaging 248.3 passing yards per game, which ranks 37th in the country, for a total of 2,731 yards, 40th best among FBS passers.

The Cardinals have, at times, struggled defending against the pass but make up for it by pressuring opposing quarterbacks. They’ll have to do it again to try and contain Cincinnati, which is averaging 31.1 points per outing.

Reach Louisville football, women's basketball and baseball beat writer Alexis Cubit at acubit@gannett.com and follow her on Twitter at @Alexis_Cubit.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: 2022 Fenway Bowl: 3 things to know as Louisville takes on Cincinnati