What’s Kentucky’s Greatest Victory?
Hello friends and welcome back to our ongoing tournament to find the biggest win in Wildcat history. Following sixteen first-round games, the stakes get higher as we move into the next round. A huge thanks to everyone who voted in the first set of games. For the most part, the higher seeds won, however, there were a couple of surprises. With all that said let’s begin the Sweet 16 looking to answer What’s Kentucky’s Greatest Victory?
With the first round completed let’s take a look at what our bracket now looks like.
Graphic courtesy of Too Cool For Air on Twitter. All photos courtesy of Getty Images.
Bear Bryant Bracket
The four games in the bracket named for the school’s all-time winningest coach went true to form. As a result all of the higher seeds now face off.
(1)- Kentucky versus Oklahoma 1951 against (4)- Kentucky versus Tennessee 2011
Kentucky 13- Oklahoma 7 (1951 Sugar Bowl)
How they got here: beat the 2009 Georgia win in the first round.
About the game- The Cats broke Oklahoma’s 31-game winning streak by shutting down Coach Bud Wilkinson’s offense averaging 35 points per contest. Walt Yowarsky, who had been moved from offense to defense for the game, ended up as the unlikely MVP. Yowarsky finished with two fumble recoveries and a sack.
As many as six teams claimed the 1950 National Championship. However, computer guru Jeff Sagarin awarded the title based on his retroactive rankings.
Why this game is important- For many, the win giving the school its only championship is the biggest in school history.
Kentucky 10- Tennessee 7
How they got here: defeated the 2008 contest over Louisville in the opening round.
About the game- With their top two quarterbacks out due to injury coach Joker Phillips turned to wide receiver Matt Roark to run the team. He responded by running 24 times for 124 yards while keeping the Volunteer offense off the field. In addition, Coshik Williams scored Kentucky’s only touchdown.
Why this game is important- The win broke a 26-game losing streak to their border rivals and first win in Lexington since 1981.
The other matchup in this bracket features two of Kentucky’s biggest recent wins.
(2)- Kentucky versus Mississippi State 2016 versus (3) Kentucky versus Louisville 2018
Kentucky 40- Mississippi State 38
How they got here: beat the 2009 Arkansas game in the first round.
About the game- Needing a win to ensure Mark Stoops’ job security the Cats did just that. Trailing 38-37 with nine seconds remaining quarterback Stephen Johnson hit Jeff Badet with an 18-yard pass down to the Mississippi State 33-yard line. From there Austin Macginnis nailed a 51-yard field goal giving the Cats an improbable victory.
Why this game is important- In addition to possibly saving Stoops’ job, it marked the first time Kentucky defeated a Dan Mullen coached team.
Kentucky 56- Louisville 10
About the game- The Cats wrapped up their best regular season in 41 years with a blowout in the Battle For The Governor’s Cup. Kentucky ran up season highs in points and yards gained with 601.
Why this game is important- The win capped the best regular season for Kentucky since 1977. Furthermore, the final margin marked Kentucky’s biggest win over Louisville since 1922.
As we continue on with the Sweet 16 to determine what’s Kentucky’s greatest victory let’s now move to the Rich Brooks bracket.
Rich Brooks Bracket
(1)- Kentucky versus Louisville 2007 against (4)- Kentucky versus Clemson 2006
Kentucky 40- Louisville 34
How they got here: knocked off the 1977 Penn State game in the first round.
About the game- Looking to break a three-game losing streak to the Cards Kentucky trailed 34-33 with less than two minutes to play. From their own 43-yard line Andre Woodson found Stevie Johnson for a 57-yard touchdown. In addition, it gave the Big Blue Nation one of the iconic calls of Tom Leach’s career.
Why this game is important- Not only did the win break a three-game losing streak to Louisville it’s also the greatest game in the Kentucky versus Louisville football rivalry.
Kentucky 28- Clemson 20 (Music City Bowl)
How they got here: knocked off the 1986 Florida win in the opening round.
About the game- It had been seven years since the Wildcats played in a bowl game. Andre Woodson led the Kentucky attack throwing for 299 yards and three touchdowns. However, it was the much-maligned Wildcat defense who helped win the game. The nations’ second-worst defense forced four turnovers and held the potent Tiger offense at bay until the games’ final few minutes.
Why this game is important- In front of a record crowd in Nashville Kentucky won their first bowl game since 1984. It would be the first of four straight postseason appearances under Brooks.
The final matchup in the first part of our Sweet 16 features a streak-breaking win versus a Tim Couch classic.
Kentucky 27- Florida 16
How they got here: knocked off the TCU win in the 1952 Cotton Bowl.
About the game- For 31 years and in every way possible Kentucky found a way to lose to the Gators. However, behind strong games from Snell and Wilson, the Cats finally broke the nation’s longest losing streak against one opponent.
Playing in only his second college game Wilson has 256 yards of total offense and three touchdowns. Snell pitched in with 175 yards on the ground.
Why this game is important- As mentioned earlier Kentucky beat Florida for the first time since 1986. In addition, it was the first win in Gainesville since 1979.
Kentucky 39- LSU 36
How they got here: the first upset victory as the six seed knocked off the third-seeded 1976 Peach Bowl.
About the game- In what many consider his signature win Couch led the Wildcats to a victory in “Death Valley.” With the game tied at 36 Couch marched Kentucky down into field goal range. A field goal by Seth Hanson gave the Cats the victory. For the game Couch threw for 391 yards and three touchdowns.
Why this game is important- On their way to an Outback Bowl bid, Kentucky won for only the fifth time in Baton Rouge. In addition, the victory marked the first SEC road win for Kentucky over a ranked team since 1977.
Now that we have looked at all the games it’s time to decide who moves on. While there are some difficult choices we are going with all the top seeds. As a result here are our picks.
1951 Oklahoma over 2011 Tennessee
2016 Mississippi State over 2018 Louisville
2007 Louisville over 2006 Clemson
2018 Florida over 1998 LSU
That’s it for the first half of the Sweet 16 as we determine what’s Kentucky’s greatest victory. What are your picks? Leave your comments below or send your picks to me on twitter. Thanks for checking this and all of the great content out here at Last Word On College Football. Next time we tackle the other half of the bracket.