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What’s the most inspiring UK football performance in our lifetime?

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Are you ready for football season yet?

I really got ready for it recently when I inadvertently remembered what I thought was the most inspiring performance I’d ever witnessed from a UK football player. Then I thought: What are all of the most inspirational performances in my lifetime?

So here’s the deal: I was born in 1979. Whether that negates some great performances I really don’t know, but here’s the contemporary ones that I remember most. The fifteen best – count it down with me. (Why 15 you ask? Because these are the ones I came up with, that’s why).

Without further ado, get inspired:

15. James Whalen Jr., 1999 Music City Bowl – UK was 6-5, building a program without Tim Couch, and looked to be ready to win a bowl game for the first time since 1984. The Cats were favored by 3, and Whalen led the way, with four catches for 79 yards in less than a quarter. He was the best player on the field until he dislocated his elbow. He did not play the final three quarters and UK was never the same in a 20-13 defeat. We can only wonder what may have been had Whalen stayed healthy.

14. Craig Yeast, four touchdowns vs Indiana, 1997 – Sophomore Tim Couch shattered a 47-year-old school record with seven touchdown passes — four to Craig Yeast — as Kentucky kept the “Bourbon Barrel” for a third consecutive year with a 49-7 pasting of Indiana.

13. Mike Hartline upsets South Carolina, 2010 – Hartline (32-of-42 for 349 yards and four TDs passing) leads the Cats to the 31-28 comeback over the No. 10 Gamecocks. Hat tip to Randall Cobb, who caught the game-winner and went for eight catches, 63 yards, and to Chris Matthews, who caught 12 balls for a ridiculous 177 yards.

12. Wesley Woodyard is the MVP, 2006 – Kentucky upsets Clemson in the 2006 Music City Bowl by shutting down a powerful offense. Woodyard leads the way with 12 tackles.

11. The UK Defense stops LSU in OT, 2007 – Give it up for the corners, and for Braxton Kelly and the linebackers for helping to stop LSU 2007. Also give a nod to Lones Sieber for his big kicks, Stevie Johnson for the game-winner, and Dicky Lyons Jr., who may have changed the game with a hellacious block.

10. Jared Lorenzen vs Matt Jones, 2003. UK vs. Arkansas. Seven overtimes. Need we say more?

9. Tim Couch takes down Alabama and the goalposts, 1997 – Couch (355 yards and four TDs passing) hit Craig Yeast with a 26-yard scoring toss for the win: UK 40, No. 20 Alabama 34 (OT)

8. Andre’ Woodson vs Tim Tebow, 2007 – ESPN GameDay was there. The place was rockin’. Andre’ did all he could, throwing for five TDs, but Tebow won.

7. The Offense vs UofL, 2007 – Yes, Stevie Johnson got loose (three catches for 65 yards and two TDs), but so did Keenan Burton (9 catches, 99 yards) and Rafael Little (27 rushes, 151 yards and a touchdown) in the 40-34 win.

6. Derek Abney – vs Florida 2002 – That was the Derek Abney game, where the UK wide receiver/kick returner went off the charts, catching a touchdown pass, returning a kickoff 100 yards for a TD and returning a punt 49 yards for another score.

5. Antonio O’Ferrel vs UofL, 1994 – O’Ferrel was pushed into action to start and led his team to a 20-14 victory. Who really thought that would happen?

4. UK Defensive line vs Dave Ragone, 2002 – UK’s lineman destroy Louisville and their QB, 22-17.

3. Bud Dupree vs Louisville, 2014 – Bud did all he could to bring home the win last year, but the Cats lost the shootout 44-40.

2. Matt Roark vs. Tennessee, 2011 – The 26-year losing streak was over – and it took Matt Roark to do it.

1. Billy Jack Haskins vs. Tennessee, 1995 – Billy Jack played with one arm, and still scored a 40-plus yard TD. It was the damnedest – and most inspiring – thing I may have ever seen in sports. Still, we lost to No. 4 Tennessee 34-31, but the kids did all they could. Nod to Moe Williams in that game, too, who rushed for like a million yards.


Well, what did I miss? Leave your comments below and let us know. Or email me at [email protected] or hit me up on Twitter: @rhinoKSR or my website: and maybe I’ll share them.

Article written by Ryan Clark

Ryan Clark has spent most of his life avoiding real work. He has walked the back nine with Tiger Woods, partied with Lebron James in New York and watched Kentucky basketball with Ashley Judd. He's hunted for ghosts in Civil War mansions, screened a movie with Cameron Crowe and interviewed Klan members while eating fried Twinkies at the Mississippi State Fair. He's made bets at the Kentucky Derby with Gilbert Gottfried, shared bootcamp quarters with our nation's finest National Guardsmen and women, and was even named an honorable mention Academic All-American while on academic probation at WKU. It makes sense then that he's now an editor and an instructor at Northern Kentucky University.

15 Comments for What’s the most inspiring UK football performance in our lifetime?

  1. Pierre Cordone
    9:57 pm August 20, 2015 Permalink

    How could you leave out JoJo’s game against SC? They carried him off the field.

    • CalvaryCatFan
      10:32 pm August 20, 2015 Permalink

      You beat me to it. No way JoJo should’ve been left off. I would also suggest Cobb taking us down the field against Tennessee, only to have the coaches lose their minds and stop giving him the ball. That was such a joke(r).

  2. Timbo
    10:07 pm August 20, 2015 Permalink

    Don’t overlook Mo Williams performance against South Carolina on the road. One of the best individual performances I can ever remember. They won I believe despite Curry. I may be wrong but I think they beat Tannyehill the Mullet Slinger QB.

  3. bluetothebone
    10:56 pm August 20, 2015 Permalink

    Where is Mo Williams 300 yd rushing game against I can’t remember..

    • Moe Knows
      9:00 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

      @ South Carolina

  4. UK Football Fan
    11:58 pm August 20, 2015 Permalink

    So many great UK football games in the last 8 years. My favorite top 4 season games in the last 8 years are in order as follows.

    1. UK wins 40-37 versus #19th ranked Louisville in 2007. “Future NFL Star Stevie Johnson gets loose”

    2. UK plays against the #1 Team in the Nation and shocks the world by defeating the LSU Tigers at Commonwealth Stadium.

    3. UK versus Louisville last year at Papa JohnStadium. Cats lost 44-40. But they were Pounding on the door and so close to victory!

    4. UK loses 36-30 in triple overtime against the Florida Gators last year in the Swamp. Again, they were pounding on the door and were so close to victory! GO CATS!!

  5. Chuck
    3:53 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    If you have to include losses, I don’t know how you can’t include Randall Cobb versus Auburn 2010. Cobb threw for a TD, rushed for 2 TDs, and received another TD. He nearly single handedly beat Cam Newtons championship team.

  6. timer
    7:41 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    Team defense – especially Richard Jaffe and Dallas Owens – in the game against Penn St. in Happy Valley in ’77.

    Lifetime award to Mike Siganos. Abney and Cobb were much more talented, but no one has ever brought more swagger to a team by returning punts.

  7. timer
    7:43 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    Great call on Billy Jack. No other single game performance is close.

  8. Craig
    8:10 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    Jojo 2014 vs usc and Cobb 2010 vs auburn. Both top 5 IMO

  9. Les
    10:41 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    The Moe Williams vs South Carolina game was actually at Commonwealth. Yes, it should be on the list. Great call with Billy Jack’s play.

  10. adam
    11:11 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    I will never forget that game against Georgia were cobb had his break out game in the wild cobb. Almost beat them by himself.

  11. theWilkman
    11:25 am August 21, 2015 Permalink

    Throwing individual performances out, the most inspiring team win was against LSU in 2007. Unreal atmosphere