On Saturday evening, in Louisville at Cardinal Stadium, the University of Kentucky football team defeated the University of Louisville to win The Governor’s Cup matchup for the second time in three years. The Wildcats (9-3, 5-3 SEC) finish the 2018 regular season with nine regular season wins, completing Kentucky’s best campaign in over 40 years. And they did it in style, thumping the rival Cardinals 56-10.
Wildcat Quarterback Terry Wilson led the offensive onslaught as he accounted for 340 total yards and 4 touchdowns. Wilson was 17-23 for 261 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception; he rushed for 79 yards on 10 attempts and another touchdown. Kentucky finished with 601 total yards, including a whopping 340 yards on the ground. Both Benny Snell (100 yards, 2 TDs) and AJ Rose (112 yards, 1 TD) reached 100 yards rushing. An offense that had spent the last month or more was dominant against Louisville, scoring 56 points despite two third quarter interceptions inside the Cardinal red zone.
Outside of a 75 yard first quarter touchdown run by Cardinal QB Malik Cunningham, the Kentucky defense kept the home team out of the endzone. Louisville finished with 305 yards of offense, most of which was on Cunningham’s run or when the game had already been decided. Kash Daniel had 8 tackles, including three for a loss. Josh Allen had four tackles and added another sack to his personal and school record total. The Wildcats held the Cards to just 2-11 on third down (the UK offense converted 4-8 on third down and were 3-3 on fourth). The Kentucky team was balanced on both sides of the ball.
A few years ago when head coach Mark Stoops brought his Cats to town, Louisville had the superior players. The Wildcats jawed and talked, attempting to bait the superior team into not playing their game. And even last year, during a Cardinal rout in Lexington, tempers flared and Kentucky, as a team, lost its composure. This year, it was different. The Cards were the undisciplined bunch accounting for 12 penalties for 123 yards. Postgame, Stoops said that he and his staff coached his team into staying disciplined and focused and he was proud of how they handled themselves.
The 2018 Kentucky Wildcat football season has a few what-ifs (the losses at Texas A&M and Tennessee, obviously). In the world that is, however, the Wildcats have won nine regular season games for the first time since 1977. After the game, Terry Wilson acknowledged that fact, but said that it’s his goal to make that the standard going forward. Stoops said he was proud of his team and the way they played throughout the season. Coach Stoops that the seniors for changing the culture of Kentucky Football. When asked if this game and this season could be a stepping stone to even bigger things, Mark Stoops responded succinctly, “Yes.”
The Governor’s Cup is returning to Lexington. The Wildcats will wait and see where they’re headed for a bowl game. Nine wins. Flaws and all, this ain’t your father’s Kentucky football team.