We return to our ongoing contest to find the greatest win in Kentucky Football history. We’ve made it to the last set of games in the first round. This group is named for the Wildcats current coach. Mark Stoops enters his seventh season in Lexington leading the Cats to three straight bowls. In addition, his squad knocked off Penn State in the Citrus Bowl for the school’s first New Year’s Day bowl win since 1952. As we continue with the contest to determine Kentucky Football’s greatest win Mark Stoops bracket let’s do a recap.
Kentucky Football’s Greatest Win Mark Stoops Bracket
Looking At The Bracket
As we have done previously let’s first take a look at the overall bracket before we head into the Stoops one.
Bracket courtesy of 2Cool4air on Twitter: All photos courtesy Getty Images
(1)- Kentucky versus LSU 2007 against (8)- Kentucky versus Tennessee 1984
Kentucky 43- LSU 37 (Three overtimes)
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 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- Not only was it the biggest win of Rich Brooks‘ time at Kentucky it was the first win over a Number one ranked team since 1964.
Kentucky 17- Tennessee 12
About the game- Jerry Claiborne’s club finished it’s best regular season in nearly a decade with a win in Knoxville. In front of what was then the largest crowd to ever see a Kentucky football game (93,791) running back George Adams led the way.
By rushing for 110 yards and two touchdowns Adams helped the Cats bring the “Beer Barrel” back to Lexington. In addition quarterback Bill Ransdell threw for another 158 yards.
Why this game is important– At the time the game didn’t seem like a big win since the Cats had won four of the last nine against Tennessee. However it would be the last win until 2011 against the Vols and then last win in Knoxville. A streak which currently stands at 17 in a row.
(4)- Kentucky versus Florida State 2007 against (5)- Kentucky versus Wisconsin 1984
Kentucky 35- Florida State 28
About the game- For a second straight season the Cats were selected to play in the Music City Bowl. Once again they faced another ACC squad. Behind Woodson, the game’s MVP, Kentucky raced out to a 28-14 lead after three quarters.
Despite being without 34 players due to injuries and suspensions the Seminoles rallied in the fourth period. After Woodson’s fourth touchdown pass of the day made it 35-21, FSU cut it to seven on a pass from Drew Weatherford to Greg Carr. Kentucky appeared to have the game won when Micah Johnson intercepted a pass. However he fumbled on the return giving the ball right back. Luckily for Cat fans a last second pass fell incomplete.
Why this game is important- It was the first time since the 1950’s Kentucky won consecutive bowl games. Furthermore it marked the first time in history Bowden lost a December bowl game.
Kentucky 20- Wisconsin 19
About the game- A year after losing to West Virginia the Cats again went to the Hall Of Fame Classic this time to face Wisconsin. The Badgers jumped out to an 16-7 halftime lead on three field goals by Todd Gregoire and a touchdown pass from Mike Howard to Thad McFadden.
However the Cats rallied in the second half behind the three headed rushing attack of George Adams, Mark Higgs and Marc Logan. A 27 yard pass from Bill Ransdell to Logan cut the lead to 19-17. On their next possession Adams and Higgs took turns moving the ball down the field. With a little under nine minutes remaining freshman kicker Joey Worley hit a 52 yard field goal giving the Cats the lead.
The Badgers got one last chance moving the ball all the way down to the Kentucky eight yard line. However a bad snap spoiled Gregoire’s chance for a fifth field goal. The Cats ran out the clock for the win.
Why this game is important- The win marked Kentucky’s first bowl victory in eight years and it would be 22 more before the Cats won another.
We are halfway through the Mark Stoops bracket in our search for Kentucky football’s greatest win. The remaining games feature some very recent classics.
(3)- Kentucky versus Tennessee 2017 versus (6)- Kentucky versus Mississippi State 2018
Kentucky 29- Tennessee 26
About the game– Quarterback Stephen Johnson shook off a shoulder injury to lead the Cats to a win. With 33 seconds remaining Johnson ran 11 yards for a score putting the Cats up by one. He then hit Benny Snell with the two point conversion giving Kentucky a three point lead.
However in true Wildcat fashion the game was far from over. After driving to near mid-field Vols quarterback Jarrett Guarantano completed a 48 yard Hail Mary to Jeff George. Thankfully for Cat fans he was stopped at the three yard line.
Snell had one of his best games as a Wildcat rushing for 180 yards and three touchdowns. In addition Johnson added 84 yards on the ground and a score.
Why this game is important- The win gave Mark Stoops‘ Cats bowl eligibility in consecutive years for the first time in nearly a decade. It also marked the first win over Tennessee since 2011 and only the second since 1984.
Kentucky 28- Mississippi State 7
About the game– Of all the things Benny Snell accomplished at Kentucky this game ranks near the top. Against a defense line which had three players drafted in April Snell lit them up for 165 yards and four touchdowns. In process he broke Randall Cobb‘s school touchdown record of 37.
However as impressive as Snell was the Kentucky defense was up to the task. Behind first round pick Josh Allen the Wildcats held the Bulldogs to only 51 yards rushing or 251 below their season average.
Why this game is important- The victory marked the first time since 1977 Kentucky won consecutive game against ranked opponents.
(2) Kentucky vs. Penn State 2019 vs. (7) Kentucky vs. Georgia 2006
Kentucky 27- Penn State 24
About the game- Twenty years to the day of their last New Year’s Day bowl the Cats once again played in Florida. Kentucky again played Penn State, this time in the Citrus Bowl. 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.
Snell ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns and set the all-time school record for yards with 3,873. 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– The victory marked only the third time in school history Kentucky won 10 games in a season. The other two times were 1950 and 1977.
Kentucky 24- Georgia 20
About the game- Rich Brooks’ fourth Wildcat squad began the season at 2-4 and there were rumblings about his job security. However the week before the Cats beat Mississippi State on the road. The next week they hosted the defending SEC Champions.
Kentucky took at 17-14 lead halfway through the fourth quarter on a 10 yard touchdown pass from Andre Woodson to Keenan Burton. However Georgia marched down the field taking the lead back on a Danny Ware touchdown.
As he did many times at Kentucky Woodson drove the Cats into scoring position and with 1:21 remaining Tony Dixon’s three yard scamper gave Kentucky the lead. A Trevard Lindley interception of Matthew Stafford sealed the victory breaking a nine game losing streak to Georgia.
Why this game is important- The victory marked the “signature win” for Brooks setting one of the most successful periods of Kentucky football into motion. For the first time in school history the Wildcats went to four straight bowl games winning three.
As we wrap up the Kentucky Football’s Greatest Win Mark Stoops Bracket it is time to make picks. For this set of games we are going straight chalk.
2007 LSU over 1984 Tennessee
2007 Florida State over 1984 Wisconsin
2017 Tennessee over 2018 Mississippi State
2019 Penn State over 2006 Georgia.
Those are our picks but what do you think? Leave your picks in the comment section below or tweet me your choices. Thanks for checking out the Kentucky Football’s Greatest Win Mark Stoops bracket. Next time out the stakes get higher as we begin the Sweet 16.