This coming Saturday, Kentucky football will wear its black uniforms for the Halloween night contest with archenemy Tennessee. The rivalry game is being billed as a blackout in Commonwealth Stadium as fans are encouraged to join the team in wearing all black gear.
Saturday’s game will mark the seventh time Kentucky took the home field in its black unis. The dark, alternate look debuted four years ago on Halloween weekend, when the Cats hosted Mississippi State.
Beginning with that first blackout in 2011, Kentucky holds a 2-4 record in its black uniforms. To be fair, Kentucky was the underdog in all six of those games.
Let’s take a look back.
Kentucky vs. Mississippi State | October 29, 2011
The debut of the black unis came on Halloween weekend in 2011 to a losing effort against the Bulldogs. True freshman Maxwell Smith was forced into action early at quarterback, replacing Morgan Newton after Newton suffered a right ankle sprain in the first quarter. Smith threw for 174 yards with no interceptions, but did not add any points to the board through the air. The Cats instead relied on the running game for its lone touchdown, a four-yard run by Jonathan George. George and Co’Shik Williams combined for 105 yards in the loss.
Mississippi State also used two quarterbacks — Tyler Russell and Chris Reif — to post almost 400 yards of total offense on the Cats. UK was able to force State into three turnovers, but it still wasn’t enough to get the win.
Kentucky vs. Tennessee | November 24, 2011
In one of the greatest games in Kentucky football history, senior wide receiver Matt Roark made a surprise start at quarterback as a latch-ditch option for the injured Morgan Newton and Maxwell Smith. Roark attempted only six passes in the game, completing four for a grand total of 15 yards, but it was enough to end Tennessee’s 23-game win streak over Kentucky.
While Roark is considered the hero, UK’s defense deserves most of the credit. The Cats held the Vols scoreless for the first three quarters of the game and forced two punts and an interception in Tennessee’s three attempts to tie or take the lead late in the game.
Kentucky vs. No. 20 Mississippi State | October 6, 2012
Mississippi State’s defense held Kentucky’s offense to just 228 yards in the third black uniform game. Patrick Towles, a freshman at the time, and Jalen Whitlow led UK to two scoring drives in the loss.
Whitlow started the game, then lost his job to Towles, then took back over in the second half after Towles sprained his ankle just before halftime. Prior to the injury, Towles was 5-for-6 for 71 yards and a touchdown in his collegiate debut.
Kentucky vs. No. 7 Louisville | September 14, 2013
Kentucky wore black in Mark Stoops’ first Governor’s Cup in 2013, a 27-13 loss to seventh-ranked Louisville. Maxwell Smith and Jalen Whitlow combined to complete only 17 of 37 pass attempts for 214 yards for UK.
Across the way, Teddy Bridgewater bounced back from a slow start to throw for 250 yards and one score. Bridgewater was helped out by Senorise Perry’s 100 yards and two touchdowns in the run game in the win.
Kentucky vs. Tennessee | November 30, 2013
A freshman Joshua Dobbs torched Kentucky to the tune of 199 yards through the air and 52 yards on the ground in Kentucky’s last home meeting with Tennessee. Dobbs was responsible for three of Tennessee’s four touchdowns in the 27-14 win.
For Kentucky, Maxwell Smith played well in what would be his final snaps in Lexington. He threw for 254 yards and two touchdowns in the loss.
The game ended Mark Stoops’ first season in Lexington with a 2-10 record.
Kentucky vs. South Carolina | October 4, 2014
Last October, Kentucky picked up its second win in black and its second win in 15 years against South Carolina. JoJo Kemp was the star of the show for UK’s offense with his 131 yards and three touchdowns out of the unstoppable, yet exhausting, Wildcat formation.
Despite JoJo’s efforts to tie the game from down 14 in the fourth quarter, Kentucky still needed a little black magic to upset Spurrier’s Gamecocks. It would come in the form of a Bud Dupree interception return for a touchdown with two and a half minutes to go in the game. South Carolina’s last-minute attempt to break UK’s first lead of the game were unsuccessful, and the Commonwealth crowd rushed the field to celebrate the victory.
Kentucky vs. Tennessee | October 31, 2015