The Greatest Kentucky Football Victory

The Greatest Kentucky Football Victory: We started with 32 teams and now we are down to four. Which game takes the title as best in school history.
Steve Johnson #13 of the Kentucky Wildcats catches the game winning touchdown in the third overtime period against the LSU Tigers during the SEC game at Commonwealth Stadium October 13, 2007 in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 43-37. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)

Which Win Is Number One?

Four months ago we started an NCAA bracket-style contest to determine the best win in school history. In the beginning, there were 32 games and now we are down to the Final Four. Three different eras of Kentucky football are represented which is pretty cool. Now that we’ve built some anticipation it’s time to decide the greatest Kentucky Football victory.

A Look At The Bracket

As always let’s begin by showing you who is left in our Final Four.

(Bracket artwork courtesy @2cool4air. All photos courtesy Getty Images)

Matchup Number One

Our first matchup pits the winner of the Bear Bryant bracket against the Rich Brooks victor. It’s the 1951 Sugar Bowl against the 2018 win over Florida.

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. Knocked off the 2016 Mississippi State contest in the Elite 8.

About The Game

Following the 1950 season, the Cats were selected to play in the Sugar Bowl against the Number One ranked Sooners. Under legendary coach Bud Wilkinson Oklahoma came into the game on a 31 game winning streak.

Bear Bryant’s club jumped out to an early 13-0 lead at the half. The Cats scored on a pass from Babe Parilli to Wilbur Jamerson. Then, another rushing score by Jamerson. For much of the game, the Wildcats’ three tackle defense led by Outland Trophy Winner Bob Gain kept the Sooners at bay. However, it was Walt Yowarsky who starred for the Wildcat defense. Bryant’s move of Yowarsky from offense to defense helped offset the Sooners split T offense which averaged 35 points a game. In fact, in some instances, the Cats featured nine players on the line of scrimmage.

With two fumble recoveries and a sack, Yowarsky was named the game’s Most Valuable Player. Ironically, he had only played a few minutes on defense during the season. Many years later, computer guru, Jeff Sagarin released retroactive rankings for 1950 and listed Kentucky number one. This led the school to claim its only National Championship.

Why This Game Is Important

Quite simply for many, it is the biggest win in school history. In snapping Oklahoma’s 31 game winning streak it gave the Cats and Bear Bryant their first championship.

Kentucky 27- Florida 16

This game beat the 1952 TCU Cotton Bowl victory in the first round and the 1998 LSU win in the Sweet 16. In a mild upset beat the 2007 Louisville game in the Elite 8.

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.”

Who Moves On?

This game is a “pick-em” in the truest sense of the word. On one side you have arguably the greatest win in school history. However, the other game features a win that broke the longest current losing streak to one team in college football. While at the time it didn’t seem like that big of a victory history has proven the Sugar Bowl win to be huge. As a result, it moves onto the finals.

Winner: 1951 Sugar Bowl

Matchup Number Two

We are halfway to determining the players in deciding the greatest Kentucky Football win. The other contest pits the winner of the Jerry Claiborne bracket against the Mark Stoops victor. It’s the 2016 victory over Louisville versus the 2007 win over LSU.

Kentucky 41- Louisville 38

This game beat the 1995 South Carolina contest in the first round. Edged the 1998 Louisville game in the Sweet 16. In another upset beat the 1997 Alabama game in the Elite 8 to get to this round.

About The Game

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.

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.

Kentucky 43- LSU 37 (Three overtimes)

This game beat the 1984 Tennessee game in the first round and the 2007 Florida State Music City Bowl in the Sweet 16. Knocked off the 2019 Citrus Bowl victory over Penn State to advance in the Elite 8.

About The Game

The number one ranked and undefeated Tigers came rolling into Commonwealth Stadium on October 13, 2007. Les Miles’ club led 27-14 late in the third quarter. However, behind Andre Woodson, Kentucky rallied 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 but it wouldn’t matter. On a fourth and two linebacker Braxton Kelley stopped Charles Scott short and the celebration ensued.

Why This Game Is Important

Not only was it the biggest win of Rich Brooks‘ time at Kentucky, but it was also the first win over a No. 1 ranked team since 1964.

Who Goes To The Final?

The game pits two of the best wins in recent memory against each other. Anytime you defeat your in-state rival, it’s a good day. In addition, the fact Kentucky was a four-touchdown underdog made the win even sweeter.

However, the upset win of LSU was something special. The three overtime win ranks as the best win in Commonwealth Stadium (Kroger Field) history. As a result, the LSU win moves onto the finals.

Winner: 2007 LSU

The Championship Game

Now that the dust has settled our championship game is the 1951 Sugar Bowl against the 2007 LSU contest. You could make a case for either game to win. However, the way Kentucky won plus the atmosphere around the game pushes the LSU game over the top.

The Greatest Kentucky Football Victory: 2007 LSU

So there you have it we have declared the 2007 victory over LSU as the Greatest Kentucky Football Victory. Do you agree? Post your comment below or send me a comment on Twitter.

Thanks for checking out this special series here at Last Word On College Football. I hope you have enjoyed reading this as much as it has been to bring it to you.

 

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Kevin lives in Lexington, Kentucky with his wife Dr. Rachel McGuffey and two kids Ryan and Mary Beth. He can be heard talking SEC Football On The Hill with Pat Jenkins and with Mark Rogers of Mark Rogers TV. He also is a contributor to the Hey Kentucky program that airs on WLEX-TV in Lexington. He is a fan of Kentucky football and basketball along with the Cincinnati Reds and Bengals, Green Bay Packers and Golden State Warriors. He can be reached via Twitter @KevinMcGuffey

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