Game Review: Cincinnati Bearcats vs Louisville Cardinals, 10/26/12
Weather: Wet and Cold; Ticket Price $25 scalper (face $46)
“Cold, Wet and Happy” by Tree
I scheduled the Cincinnati vs Louisville game in late September when it looked like the two would both be undefeated for the game. Given that and their reasonable proximity, I thought the game would be a great one. Unfortunately, Cincy lost to Toledo (don’t ever sleep on the MAC) a week before so the Friday night game lost a little bit of its luster but the game was still a donnybrook.
Papa John Stadium was not on campus but it was easy to get to. I missed the exit for the free parking at the Expo lot where you take can take a bus to the game. I got to the game right at kickoff, and managed to get into a lot near the stadium for free. They may have been charging earlier, but there was no one there when I pulled. I am sure the steady, cold rain had something to do with that. I wouldn’t worry about parking I saw other lots for $5 – $10. The stadium was not on campus and it was not obvious to me that it was nearby. The stadium was very nice, much like a pro stadium dedicated to only the University. I was not exactly enamored of the moniker “Papa John Stadium” but the company was headquarter in Louisville and undoubtedly kicked in some bucks. I recalled somewhere that it is the only college stadium with seat backs for every seat. That may be true for dedicated college stadiums, but with so many universities playing at pro stadiums, there are a multitude other stadiums with that feature. I did not use the indoor bathrooms because they had a stack of port a johns near the gate with not too much waiting. I normally would avoid that when I am wearing rain gear, but any port in a storm as they say.
I bought a ticket right at kickoff for $25 from a scalper. It had a face value of $46. It was a good seat, lower level – corner of end zone. I seem to get a lot of seats from scalpers in that area. There were two scoreboards with video, but they were a little small compared to some other stadiums. There was one upper deck and I was very glad I wasn’t sitting there given the weather. There was also a nice gift shop that provided some welcomed warmth at half time. The concessions were pretty standard, selling Papa Jones pizza. The game was pretty much a sell-out. The fans were very friendly and definitely into the game. It was meant to be a “White Out” but fans were dressed for the weather and that stunt was a bust. (A note to other schools, that’s a tradition that is probably best left to Penn State. Nobody does it better than them.) Still, the fans were active the whole game, making the Louisville “L” with the index finger and thumb. Cheers included ” C A R D S, CARDS, CARDS, CARDS” and “Go CARDS Go”. Unfortunately, they had the tired “Another Cards first down”. Cincy fans were also well represented and everyone behaved themselves.
At over 9 hours, it was a long drive to get from Northern Va. to Louisville. The West Virginia turnpike was killing me. Who puts up sign for Starbucks and then says it is three and half miles away after leaving the highway? And then there was no signage so I couldn’t find it anyway. This was the weekend prior to Hurricane Sandy, and I was constantly passing utility trucks heading up north to provide support.
Luckily the game was very entertaining. Cincy was a good team – fast, with a good running game which gave Louisville fits all night. The Bearcats scored in under two minutes to put the game to overtime. Louisville could throw the ball well and I thought they should have done more of that. However, they put it together in the end and pulled out the victory in overtime. So despite the weather, the game was definitely worth the trip.
Unfortunately, the weather for the game was bad at the start and it got progressively wetter and colder the longer the game went on. I was ready for it with three layers of clothing plus rain gear. I also wore heavy boots so my feet stayed nice and dry. I can’t say that for most of the other fans. I saw lots of wet sneakers and running shoes. The kid behind me was only wearing a light hoodie. It was no surprise that he asked his Mom’s boyfriend to leave halfway through the second quarter. To the guy’s credit he obliged and got the soaking wet kid home before he got pneumonia. Of course, a number of the female fans were victims of fashion, sporting those crazy skinny jeans. Don’t get me wrong they look great, but even with nylons on underneath, they had to be cold (see Kent State). My only mistake was bringing gloves which weren’t waterproof. That led me to an emergency purchase of hot nuts which were neither hot nor particularly tasty.
Since I was heading to Marshall the following day for another night game, I had some time to check out the city. For some reason, I thought Louisville would be all horse farms and plantations but it was a bit grittier than I had imagined. I did ride the riverfront trail on Saturday morning which was alternatively pretty and then gritty. But Louisville gets points for a well marked trail and clear efforts to make the city more active which they need to do because I only saw three other riders and four runners. It was not good sign given it was an hour and half ride.