Bring up the last 15 years of UK football and what are the good memories? Most fans are going to say 2007 LSU or Louisville, 2011 Tennessee, the 4-game bowl winning streak, or beating South Carolina the last 2 seasons. There have been a couple other nice UL memories in there too. But I think a game that doesn’t get enough credit for it’s importance and impact for the UK program was the win over Auburn in 2009.
Here are the facts:
- UK was coming off 3 consecutive SEC losses by a combined 54 points.
- UK not only had Mike Hartline injured, but backup Morgan Newton was injured during game, forcing Will Fidler into action.
- Auburn was 5-1 on the year.
- Kentucky trailed by 7 points in the 4th quarter.
- Auburn would win the national title the next season.
- UK had not beaten Auburn in 43 years.
This was a rebuilding year for the Cats, especially after Hartline went down with injury. The offense was mediocre at best and historically bad at worst. Auburn still had SEC championship dreams and UK was slumping badly. Yet UK found some crazy way to win that game, which in the last few years of the Rich Brooks era seemed to be a common occurrence. And more importantly, it was something that the UK football program has historically been unable to do. They certainly didn’t do it under Joker Phillips. I think this win gets overlooked often because UK would go on to win 2 other SEC road games that season, over Vanderbilt and Georgia, and Auburn slumped a bit at the end of the year.
But I think beating Alabama, LSU, or Auburn in nearly any year holds great significance for a program like Kentucky. Those are the bell cows of the SEC West and we only get so many chances to beat them. We’ve tripped up LSU a couple times since 2000 and have beaten Alabama once in 391 years it seems. Tomorrow night, UK gets another chance for that impact victory. We got one in 2009 and for some reason it doesn’t get the credit it deserves. I hope if UK beats a slumping Auburn team in Commonwealth tomorrow that people won’t overlook its importance once again.