The Best of the Best From the 2010s
Hello everyone and welcome back to our countdown of the Best Kentucky Football Wins of the Decade. Last time out we counted down numbers 10-6. Between some huge bowl wins and streak busters which game is going to top the list? However, before we find out let’s begin the countdown by recapping the first five.
Counting Down 10-6
Here in rapid-fire order are those games.
10. Kentucky 31- South Carolina 28- October 28, 2010
9. Kentucky 15- Missouri 14- October 27, 2018
8. Kentucky 41- South Carolina 38- October 4, 2014
7. Kentucky 45- Louisville 13- November 30, 2019
6. Kentucky 41- Mississippi State 38- October 22, 2016
For a longer read and some history about all those games click on the link. Now that we’ve gone through those let’s move onto the top five where there are some huge wins to relive.
The Best Bowl- Number 5
Kentucky 37- Virginia Tech 30- Belk Bowl- December 31, 2019
In the days leading up to the game, there was some bad blood between the Cats and Hokies. It reached a boiling point when the two teams got into it during pregame warm-ups. As a result, the tensions led to the best bowl game of last season.
In the early part of the game, it appeared as Virginia Tech’s plan worked. The Cats were out of sync. Too many missed tackles and penalties left Kentucky trailing 17-14 at the half. Trailing 30-24 late in the fourth quarter Lynn Bowden led the Cats on a drive for the ages.
Taking over at their own 15-yard line the Paul Hornung Award winner led Kentucky on an 18 play drive taking up over eight minutes. In addition, they completed two fourth downs to keep the drive alive. One on a pass to Josh Ali and the second on a two-yard run by Bowden. That set the stage for the winning play. Originally the pass was to go to Ahmad Wagner, the Cats’ best threat, near the goal line. However, Bowden called an audible and found Ali for the winning score.
What if I told you @LynnBowden_1 set the all-time bowl game QB rushing record (233 yards), but the game-winning play was a 13-yard TD pass to @_JoshAli6 ? #BringIt x @BelkBowl 🏆 | #BBN pic.twitter.com/TPme7FJmnb
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) December 31, 2019
For the game, Bowden rushed for 233 yards on 34 carries and two touchdowns. In addition, he broke Johnny Manziel’s record of 229 rushing yards by a quarterback in a bowl that was set against Oklahoma in the 2013 Cotton Bowl. Furthermore, he finished the season with 1,468 yards rushing. Only five off the single-season SEC record set by Cam Newton in 2010.
The win not only gave Kentucky back to back bowl wins for the first time in a decade but back to back eight-win seasons.
A Four Touchdown Underdog- Number 4
Kentucky 41- Louisville 38- November 26, 2016
Leading up to the final game of the 2016 season Kentucky had lost five straight in the Battle for the Governor’s Cup. In addition, Mark Stoops‘ squad came in as a four-touchdown underdog against Heisman winner Lamar Jackson.
With the game tied at 38, Jackson led Louisville deep into Kentucky territory for a game-winning score. However, he fumbled and Courtney Love recovered at the 10-yard line. From there Johnson moved the Cats into field goal position. “Mr. Clutch” Austin Macginnis hit a 47-yard field goal with 12 seconds remaining giving the Cats the upset in one of the series’ best games.
Kentucky broke a five-game losing streak to the Cardinals and secured their first seven-win season since 2009.
As we continue with the best Kentucky football wins of the decade our next pick broke a long losing streak in surprising fashion.
A Shocking Result- Number 3
Kentucky 10- Tennessee 7- November 26, 2011
Heading into the season finale the Wildcats had lost 26 straight to the Volunteers. Number 27 looked likely with quarterbacks Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton out due to injuries. Enter senior wide receiver Matt Roark to lead Kentucky to an improbable victory.
Roark rushed 24 times for 124 yards and Coshik Williams ran for the Wildcats’ only score. Joker Phillips’ game plan was simple, run misdirection plays to catch Tennessee off guard and rely on defense. The plan worked as Kentucky forced three second-half turnovers. Even though the Cats didn’t make a bowl for the first time in five years, Phillips received a Gatorade bath for ending the losing streak to Tennessee. As a result of the win, Kentucky broke a 26-year losing streak to their rivals and first win at home over the Vols since 1981.
First Time in 46 Years- Number 2
Kentucky 27- Penn State 24- Citrus Bowl- January 1, 2019
Twenty years to the day of their last New Year’s Day bowl the Wildcats 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. 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.
Great moment in @UKFootball history:
Kentucky 27, Penn State 24 – 2019
— Southeastern Conference (@SEC) December 2, 2019
We’ve reached the top spot in our countdown of the Best Kentucky Football Wins of the Decade. Long-suffering Cats fans can probably guess what tops the list.
Finally Breaking the Streak- Number 1
Kentucky 27- Florida 16- September 8, 2018
For 31 years and in every way possible Kentucky found a way to lose to the Gators. However, in a total shock to college football, 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. Furthermore, with this win Stoops cemented his legacy at Kentucky as the coach who broke “The Streak.”
Four That Just Missed
With any countdown, there are games who could have made the list but didn’t. Even though they didn’t make ours you may have them on your list.
Kentucky versus Tennessee in 2017, Kentucky versus Louisville in2018, Kentucky versus Mississippi State in 2018 and Kentucky versus Arkansas in 2019.
Thanks for checking out the best Kentucky football wins of the decade here at Last Word On College Football. With spring practice underway we’ll have a recap of the Blue-White game and look at the 2021 recruiting class.