Kentucky Retains The Governor’s Cup

Cats End Regular Season On A High Note

Coming into Saturday’s Battle Of The Bluegrass Kentucky and Louisville were heading in different directions. The Cards had won five of six while the Cats had lost five of seven after starting 4-0. As usual when it’s a rivalry game all that can be thrown out the window. In front of a big crowd on Senior Day at Kroger Field UK dominated every facet of the game as Kentucky retains the Governor’s Cup 26-13.

Turning The Tables

Coming into Saturday Scott Satterfield’s club was second in the nation in takeaways. However, the Cats flipped the script forcing three turnovers while committing zero. After forcing a punt on Louisville’s opening drive UK put together one of their better drives of the year going 86 yards in five plays. The last eight came on a Will Levis to Dane Key touchdown. On the next series, J.J. Weaver stripped Brock Domann on a sack returning it to the six. That drive ended with a Matt Ruffolo field goal and it was 10-0 Cats. Another made field goal made it 13-0.

Late in the second quarter, Malik Cunningham relieved an ineffective Domann leading the Cards to a score right before the half. The Card’s star quarterback missed the win over North Carolina State with a shoulder injury and hadn’t practiced much in the last two weeks.

Trevin Wallace‘s third-quarter interception of Cunningham set up a Levis to Barion Brown touchdown putting the game out of reach at 23-7. He was injured on the play and Domann returned to the game. He did throw a touchdown to Tyler Hudson that cut the lead in half. That was all the scoring as Kentucky retains the Governor’s Cup 26-13 over Louisville.

Big Day For The Seniors

In their last game at Kroger Field, both Levis and Chris Rodriguez went out on a high note. The potential first-round pick completed 11 of 19 passes for 189 yards and two touchdowns. He built on his strong game against Georgia.

If you read our game preview we said a big game from Rodriguez was needed for a Kentucky win. That’s exactly what happened as C-Rod rushed 24 times for 120 yards. That pretty much lined up with his career average of 123 yards against Louisville.

A “Special” Shout Out

For anyone who’s followed the Cats this season one of their biggest Achilles heels has been special teams. To be more specific the field goal-kicking game. Coming into Saturday Ruffolo had only hit on 12 of 20 field goals. In addition, he’d made 23 of 25 extra points. Many of the misses were the result of bad snaps.

However, on Saturday, it was a different story as the senior made a career-high four field goals and both extra points. As a result, Ruffolo was given the Howard Schnellenberger Award as the game’s Most Valuable Player. In the process, he becomes the first kicker to win the award. Let’s also give a shout-out to long snapper Cade DeGraw and holder Chance Poore who came up big when Kentucky needed it.

Final Thoughts

For a year that’s been considered a disappointment by some finished on a high note with a fourth straight win over Louisville. Of course, 2022 featured wins over Florida on the road and Mississippi State and the Cardinals at home. In years past that would go down as a great season. It goes to show how expectations have changed under Mark Stoops where 7-5 is considered a “MEH” year.

The Cats said farewell to 28 seniors on Saturday including Levis and Rodriguez. A special moment happened when Chris Oats was recognized with the seniors. The Cincinnati native played in 25 games during the 2018 and 2019 years including two bowl games. Sadly a stroke in 2020 cut his career short. It was great seeing him recognized on Saturday.

Both the Cats and Cards now await their bowl destinations. Currently, we have Kentucky pegged for the Gator Bowl. The Sun Bowl is Louisville’s current landing spot.

Kentucky retains the Governor’s Cup for a fourth straight time by defeating Louisville 26-13. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football. In the days and weeks ahead we’ll have updated bowl projections and get you ready for National Signing Day on December 21st.

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