Kentucky’s Best Win Elite 8
It has been a fun ride so far in our battle to determine Kentucky’s best win. We started with 32 games and are now down to eight. All of the top seeds advanced so this sets up some pretty epic match ups. Without any further ado let’s get rolling with Kentucky’s Best Win Elite 8.
Bear Bryant Bracket
As always let’s begin by taking a look at what’s left in the bracket.
Bracket by 2Cool4air via twitter: all pictures courtesy of Getty Images
(1)- Oklahoma 1951 vs. (2)- Mississippi State 2016
Kentucky 13- Oklahoma 7- 1951 Sugar Bowl
How they got here: Beat the 2009 Georgia game in round one and the 2011 Tennessee game in the Sweet 16.
About the game- Under coach Bear Bryant the Wildcats headed to New Orleans faced with snapping the Sooners’ 31 game winning streak. Behind a stout defense led by Outland Trophy winner Bob Gain and game MVP Walk Yowarsky, Kentucky held Oklahoma to 28 points below their season average.
On the other side of the ball the Cats scored all their points in the first half. A touchdown pass from Babe Parilli to Wilbur Jamerson and another score by Jamerson was all the points they would need. However it wasn’t until Yowarsky’s recovery of a fumbled punt that the Cats sealed the win.
Why this game in important- Not only did the Cats break the Sooners’ 31 game winning streak but years later computer guru Jeff Sagarin proclaimed Kentucky the 1950 National Champs. In addition many say it’s the single most important victory in school history.
Kentucky 40- Mississippi State 38
How they got here: Beat 2008 Arkansas in the first round and the 2018 Louisville game in the Sweet 16.
About the game- The Wildcats got off to a rough start in the 2016 season. As a result there were rumblings about Mark Stoops‘ job security. The game was a tight back and forth affair and the Cats took a 34-24 lead early in the fourth quarter. However the Bulldogs battled back and took a 38-37 lead with just over a minute to go.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson marched the Cats down the field. With nine seconds remaining quarterback he 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.
Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV on YouTube.
Why this game is important- Not only did the win possibly save Stoops’ job but it was the first win ever for Kentucky over a Dan Mullen coached team.
As we continue with Kentucky’s Greatest Win Elite 8 let’s move on over to the Rich Brooks bracket.
Rich Brooks Bracket
(1)- Louisville 2007 versus (2)- Florida 2018
Kentucky 40- Louisville 34
How they got here: beat the 1977 Penn State game in the first round. Knocked off the 2006 Music City Bowl win over Clemson in the Sweet 16.
About the game- The two rivals traded the lead back and forth over the course of the game. With 1:45 left Anthony Allen‘s two yard touchdown run gave the Cardinals a 34-33 lead.
Andre Woodson began driving the Cats down the field for a potential winning score. However a 15 yard personal foul moved the ball back to the Kentucky 43. Woodson threw a perfect pass to Stevie Johnson who had gotten behind the secondary for the win.
Why this game is important– Kentucky broke a three game losing streak in the “Battle for the Governor’s Cup.” In addition it was the school’s first win over a Top 10 team since 1977. It’s also the greatest game in the the Kentucky versus Louisville football rivalry.
Kentucky 27- Florida 16
How they got here: beat the 1952 TCU Cotton Bowl in the first round and the 1998 LSU win in the Sweet 16.
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 Benny Snell and Terry Wilson, the Cats finally broke the nation’s longest current 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.
We are halfway through Kentucky’s Greatest Win Elite 8. Let’s now go to the finals of the Jerry Claiborne bracket.
(1)- Alabama 1997 against (2)- Louisville 2016
Kentucky 40- Alabama 34- Overtime
How they got here: defeated the 2009 Auburn game in the first round. Knocked off the 2009 East Carolina Liberty Bowl win in the Sweet 16.
About the game- The Crimson Tide squad of 1997 in no way resembled what Nick Saban has built now. However, they came into this contest at Commonwealth Stadium ranked 20th. A back and forth contest saw the Cats go up 34-31 late when Anwar Stewart returned a blocked field goal 68 yards for a score.
Why this game is important- It marked the first time in 75 years the Wildcats beat the Crimson Tide. In addition, many say at the time it was the best game ever in Lexington.
Kentucky 41- Louisville 38
How it got here: Beat the 1995 South Carolina contest in the first round. Edged the 1998 Louisville game in the Sweet 16.
About the game- Mark Stoops’ Wildcats went into the final game of the 2016 season as a four touchdown underdog to the Cardinals. However the Kentucky defense forced eventual Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson into four turnovers.
Quarterback Stephen Johnson had the best game of his Wildcat career throwing for 351 yards and three touchdowns. When Austin MacGinnis hit a 48 yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining it gave the Cats the win in a huge upset.
Video courtesy of Kentucky Wildcats TV on YouTube
Why this game is important– Kentucky broke a five game losing streak to the Cardinals in what is the second best game in series history.
The final region is the Mark Stoops and this matchup may be the best one of all.
(1)- 2007 LSU versus (2)- 2019 Penn State
Kentucky 43- LSU 37 (Three Overtimes)
How they got here: Beat the 1984 Tennessee game in the first round and the 2007 Florida State Music City Bowl in the Sweet 16.
About the game- Trailing 27-14 late in the third quarter to the number one Tigers Andre Woodson rallied the Cats to send the game into overtime tied at 27.
Both squads scored touchdowns in the first overtime and field goals in the second. In the third overtime Woodson found Stevie Johnson for a touchdown putting the Cats up 43-37. They missed the try for two however it wouldn’t matter. On a fourth and two linebacker Braxton Kelley stopped Charles Scott short and the celebration was on.
Why this game is important- The victory marked the first win by Kentucky over a number one ranked team since 1964. As a result many consider it the best win in Wildcat history. Furthermore it garnered the overall number one seed in the bracket.
Kentucky 27 Penn State 24- 2019 Citrus Bowl
How it got here: Beat the 2006 Georgia game in the first round and the 2018 Mississippi State win in the Sweet 16.
About the game- Playing in their first New Year’s Bowl in 20 years and behind huge games from Benny Snell and Lynn Bowden the Cats jumped out to a 27-7 lead. However they had to fight out a huge Nittany Lion comeback to preserve the win.
In setting the all-time record for yards with 3,873 Snell ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns. In addition to returning a punt for a touchdown Bowden had five catches for 84 yards. Josh Allen, playing his last game for Kentucky had three sacks and blocked a field goal.
Why this game is important- Not only was it the first New Year’s Bowl win since 1952 it marked only the third time in school history the Cats won 10 games in a season. The other two being 1950 and 1977.
Who goes to the Final Four?
After going through all the games it’s time to pick the winners. No doubt these are some really tough decisions but here goes.
The 1951 Sugar Bowl over the 2016 Mississippi State contest.
By the narrowest of margins the 2007 Louisville win takes out last year’s streak breaking victory over Florida.
In a mild upset the 2016 Louisville win knocks off the 1997 Alabama game.
Finally in another razor thin decision the 2007 LSU victory knocks off the Citrus Bowl win.
That’s our picks now it’s your turn. Which games do you think should be in the final four. Post your responses in the comments section below or reply on Twitter. Thanks for checking out Kentucky’s Best Win Elite 8. Next time we crown the champion.