Welcome back to our search to determine Kentucky Football’s greatest win. Today we move over to the Rich Brooks bracket. Brooks coached in Lexington from 2003-2009 leading to Cats to a school record four straight bowl games. In addition he is the only coach in school history to win three consecutive bowls.
Kentucky Football’s Greatest Win- Rich Brooks Bracket
About the rules
In case you missed our first set of games in the Bear Bryant bracket you view the games and picks here. We selected 32 of Kentucky’s biggest wins, seeded them one through eight and divided them into four regions. Here is the entire field and each region.
(Artwork by @2cool4air )- All photos courtesy Getty Images
With that in mind let’s look at the match ups in the Rich Brooks bracket.
Rich Brooks Bracket
(1) Kentucky vs. Louisville 2007 against (8) Kentucky vs. Penn State
Kentucky 40- Louisville 34
About the game- Coming into this Battle For The Governor’s Cup the Cats had lost three straight to the Cards. Kentucky jumped out to a 13-0 lead however behind Brian Brohm Louisville answered right back to lead 20-19 at the half.
Early in the fourth quarter Andre Woodson hit Jacob Tamme with a five yard touchdown giving the Cats a 33-28 lead. A two yard run by Anthony Allen put U of L up 34-33 with less than two minutes to play. Woodson drove the Cats into Cardinal territory, however a personal foul moved them back to their own 43. One the next play “Stevie got loose” as Woodson hit Stevie Johnson with a 57 yard play to win the game.
Why This Game Is Important- As mentioned earlier the win broke a four game losing streak to the Cardinals. It’s also the greatest game in the Kentucky versus Louisville football rivalry.
Kentucky 24- Penn State 20
About the game- During the mid 1970’s Kentucky and Penn State played a four game home and home series with each team winning twice. This contest turned out to be the best of the four. Trailing 10-0 early Dallas Owens returned a Chuck Fusina pass 23 yards for a score. The two teams traded scores in the second half before a two yard run by Derrick Ramsey gave the lead and the win.
Kentucky’s defense intercepted Fusina three times on the way to giving the Nittany Lions their only loss of the season. Both teams finished the year ranked in the Top 10 with Penn State fifth and Kentucky sixth.
Why This Game Is Important- The win in State College ranks as one of, if not the best, of Fran Curci’s tenure in Lexington. It was the Cats last win over a Top 10 team before the Louisville win 30 years later.
(4) Kentucky vs. Clemson 2006 against (5) Kentucky vs. Florida 1986
Kentucky 28- Clemson 20
About the game- It had been seven years since the Wildcats last played in a bowl game. In front of a record crowd mostly made up of Cat fans driving down I-65 Kentucky met the Tigers in the Music City Bowl. Andre Woodson threw for 299 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Kentucky attack. However it was the much maligned defense who stole the show.
The nation’s second worst defense forced four Clemson turnovers and gave up only six points until the very end of the game. In addition they held running backs James Davis and C.J. Spiller to only 77 yards. The Tigers got two late scores on the prevent defense to make the final look much closer than it really was.
Why this game is important- The win was Kentucky’s first in a bowl since 1984 after losing their previous three. It would be the first of four straight post season games under Brooks.
Kentucky 10- Florida 3
About the game- On a cold November day Mark Higgs scored the game’s only touchdown in a defensive struggle. For the game Higgs rushed for 99 yards and the Kentucky defense held twice in the fourth quarter to preserve the win.
With five minutes to go Kentucky forced Gators quarterback Kerwin Bell into a bad pass on fourth down at the goal line. On their final drive Bell hit Ricky Nattiel with a pass over the middle. However defensive back Tony Mayes forced a fumble to preserve the win.
Why this game is important- At the time it didn’t seem like a big win but it turned out the be Kentucky’s last over Florida until 2018.
We are halfway home in the Rich Brooks bracket as we look to find Kentucky Football’s Greatest Win. Let’s move to the bottom half and four more big wins.
(2) Kentucky vs. Florida 2018 against (7) Kentucky vs. TCU
Kentucky 27- Florida 16
About the game- For 31 years and in every way possible Kentucky found a way to lose to the Gators. However on September 8, 2018 they finally broke through. Behind 175 yards from Benny Snell and a huge game from Terry Wilson the Cats beat Florida. Playing in only his second college game Wilson had 256 yards of total offense and three touchdowns.
Not only did the Wildcats break the current longest losing streak against one opponent but they won in Gainesville for the first time since 1979. The victory catapulted Mark Stoops‘ club to the first 10 win season in 41 years.
Why this game is important- With this win Stoops cemented his legacy at Kentucky as the coach who broke “The Streak.”
Kentucky 20- TCU 7
About the game- Following the 1951 season Bear Bryant’s Cats were selected for a second straight New Year’s Bowl. After a Sugar Bowl bid the year before Kentucky headed to Dallas to face the Horned Frogs in the Cotton Bowl.
The Cats jumped out to a 13-0 lead at the half and the defense held TCU to only one score in the game. Babe Parilli threw two touchdowns to Emery Clark to lead the Wildcat attack.
Why this game is important- This would be the last bowl victory for Bryant at Kentucky as he would leave for Texas A&M following the 1953 season. In addition it is the last bowl game for Kentucky in almost a quarter century.
(3) Kentucky vs. North Carolina 1976 against (6) Kentucky vs. LSU 1998
Kentucky 21- North Carolina 0
About the game– As previously mentioned it would be 24 years before the Wildcats played in another bowl game. Following a 7-4 regular season Fran Curci’s club met the Tar Heels in the Peach Bowl.
After a scoreless first half the Kentucky offense came alive behind running back Rod Stewart. His three touchdowns and 104 yards rushing garnered him MVP honors for the game.
On the other side of the ball the Wildcat defense was stellar. Not only did they shut out the Tar Heels they limited them to only 104 yards of total offense. In addition they forced five turnovers.
Why this game is important- Kentucky’s only bowl under Curci set the stage for what was supposed to be a monster year in 1977. The Cats did go 10-1 but unfortunately were placed on probation and were ineligible for a bowl game.
Kentucky 39- LSU 36
About the game- Winning in “Death Valley” is a very difficult thing to do. However behind Tim Couch Kentucky did just that. In what many consider the signature win of his career Couch led the Cats to a last second win.
LSU rallied from 14 down in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 36. However Couch marched Kentucky down the field winning the game on a Seth Hanson field goal. For the game Couch threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns as Kentucky won in Baton Rouge for only the fifth time in school history.
Why this game is important- The victory marked the first SEC road win for Kentucky over a ranked team since 1977.
Now that we’ve gone through the game it’s time to pick the winners.
Louisville 2007 over 1977 Penn State with relative ease.
In probably the closest battle 2006 Clemson over 1986 Florida.
2018 Florida defeating the 1952 Cotton Bowl win over TCU.
Finally in another close game we are going with the 1976 Peach Bowl over the 1998 LSU contest.
We would love to hear what your choices are. Simply leave a comment below or respond to me on Twitter. Thanks for checking out Kentucky Football’s Greatest Win- Rich Brooks Bracket here at Last Word On College Football. Next time it’s more first round games in the Jerry Claiborne bracket.