Kentucky Football Program Turns Corner with Win Over UL

Kentucky Claims State Championship, Reclaims Governor’s Cup with 41-38 Upset Win over 11th Ranked Louisville, as Program Turns Corner in 2016

Nov 26, 2016; Louisville, KY, USA; The Louisville Cardinals celebrate with the Governor

Kentucky picked up its seventh win of the season in what stands to become a program-turning year in which the Cats exercised a lot of demons. Kentucky is bowl eligible for the first time since 2010, and with the win over Louisville the only question that remains will be the qualify of the bowl itself. While the Cats are ecstatic to get any bowl, there could be some upward movement following this final weekend of the regular season.

With this win, the Cats break a five-year losing streak to the hated Cards, regaining the overall lead in the all-time series, 15-14. For this class of seniors, today marks their first win over the Cards. And for each of them, it has to feel especially good to upset a team that denied the Cats a bowl-eligible sixth win in each of the past two seasons.

In conference play, Kentucky has forged a historic turnaround as well, winning four SEC games for the first time since since 2006, and for a time was actually in the hunt to win the SEC East for the first time in school history. As it stands, the Cats beat Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vandy and Missouri.

The season will also forever be memorable for the turnaround within itself. The Cats got off to a disastrous start, with a second-half meltdown leading to a loss against Southern Miss, before an uninspired effort led to getting waxed by Florida in the Swamp. But since then, the Cats have steadily improved all season. A monstrous ground game emerged behind a dominant offensive line, and Boom Williams and true freshman Benny Snell carried the load. A healthy Jojo Kemp only added to the running game’s explosiveness in recent weeks.

More encouraging, junior college transfer junior quarterback Stephen Johnson has blossomed in recent weeks and was the difference versus the cards. Johnson threw for 338 yards and 3 touchdowns, just a week after coming off the bench, banged up, to steady the faltering offense against Austin Peay. His toughness has only been equalled by his play down the stretch, and his deep ball is as good as anyone in the country-a real threat when complimenting the Cats’ potent ground game.

“I think it’s significant,” said Kentucky coach Mark Stoops. “It’s a significant win. Our players deserved it, our fan base did, our administration. Like I said, we poured a lot into this. It’s not easy. So, it’s a giant step in the right direction.”

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Big Blue Nation is flying high today, in November, and we ain’t talking about the No. 1 ranked basketball team. This Kentucky football team has turned a big corner in 2016. Whoever the Cats get, in whatever bowl (BOWL PROJECTIONS), had better be ready. These Cats are hungry, and ready to finish. 

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