Louisville Courier Journal
Published 11:04 PM EST Nov 30, 2019
LEXINGTON — All week, Kentucky talked the talk and on Saturday, the Wildcats walked the walk. Or ran the run, rather.
During the week, Kentucky embraced the Governor's Cup rivalry against Louisville. Quarterback Lynn Bowden refused to acknowledge the word “Louisville,” Kentucky players weren’t allowed to wear any red, and defensive lineman Calvin Taylor guaranteed a victory.
The result was a jaw-dropping, record-setting 517 rushing yards by the Wildcats (7-5) and a dominant 45-13 win over the visiting Cardinals (7-5).
“I told y’all,” Taylor said after the game. “I told y’all.”
According to players, coach Mark Stoops told players not to be too boastful this week, but Taylor ignored that. He knew he would guarantee a victory even before he met with media earlier this week.
“The crazy thing about it, coach just told us before we went out there to just worry about Kentucky and don’t say anything in that manner,” senior Jordan Griffin said, “and (Taylor) went right out there and said: ‘We’re gonna win.’”
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Said senior Logan Stenberg: “The coaches were telling us, ‘Shut up.’”
The Wildcats were confident despite entering the game as a fairly one-dimensional team. Everyone in the stadium knew Kentucky was going to run the ball, and the Wildcats did that. Repeatedly and successfully.
Lynn Bowden ran for an incredible 284 yards and four touchdowns, Chris Rodriguez added 125 yards and another score, and both made sure to flash the “L’s down” signal, brashly taking the latest victory in the Governor’s Cup series.
The Wildcats averaged 12.9 yards per rush behind a stout offensive line that has been nominated for the Joe Moore Award, given to the best unit in the country. Kentucky threw just two passes — good for four total yards — but Louisville was not able to stop UK’s vaunted rushing attack.
“Even if they have a whole week to prepare for what we’re going to do, we’re still going to do it to them,” said offensive tackle Landon Young.
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Young remembers listening to Governor’s Cup games on the radio as a kid and attending them as a high schooler at Lafayette. He said that he and the Wildcats were all as confident as Taylor’s statement made them sound.
“I had no doubt in my mind,” he said of getting a win.
After Kentucky’s lopsided victory, the team celebrated in unison, posing for photos with the Governor’s Cup on the soggy field. After all of the chatter this week, the trophy will remain in Lexington for the second-straight year.
“The Governor Cup looks pretty comfortable out there, so it was good to keep it here,” said linebacker Jamar “Boogie” Watson.
Watson punctuated the week of confidence with one more bold move. Following the game's final whistle, he grabbed the football and punted it.
“It was great,” he said of the braggadocious moment. “Rivalry game. They talk a lot of junk, we talk a lot of junk, so for us to finally get the win, game’s over, won’t get a flag or anything, had to do a little showboating.”
Recap: Kentucky's defense proves it is indeed elite
The Wildcats fully embraced the rivalry in the days leading up to the anticipated matchup, and on the field, they backed it up with a historic rushing performance. Stoops had good reason not to like the Wildcats’ confidence — or cockiness, from another perspective — but the players put together a statement victory.
Kentucky had been criticized for having no wins against teams with a winning record, but they got one on Saturday.
“It’s good to be confident,” Watson said. “You can’t be mad at us for being confident, and now that we won, we can talk all the trash we want.”
Taylor took that to heart. With the win secured, he made one more proclamation.
“It’s our state,” he said. “There ain’t no doubt who the best team in the state. We’ve proved it two years in a row.”
Hayes Gardner can be reached at [email protected]; Twitter: @HayesGardner; Support strong local journalism by subscribing today: courier-journal.com/subscribe.