Steve Superior did it again. But this time coach Spurrier beat Kentucky 38-23 when he shouldn’t have because the Wildcats had every opportunity to pluck the feathers from his South Carolina Gamecocks.
The Wildcats did some marvelous things. There was Dicky Lyons Jr. making a one-handed catch of a pass that Andre Woodson threw too high. That catch, and a suddenly-improved defense, seemed to shift the momentum Kentucky’s way, especially when Jacob Tamme concluded the drive with an amazing touchdown catch in the end zone. That tied the score at 10, but that was the last time it was even.
Not that the Wildcats didn’t have their chances, but they continuously shot themselves in the foot with fumbles and turnovers.
And they made the Ol’ Ball Coach sweat. Once Spurrier was so upset that he lost his glasses, play-call sheet and head set. He didn’t wear his usual visor or it would have gone sailing too.
The game ended with Carolina knocking at the goal, but Spurrier shook his head and told his quarterback to let the clock run out.
Not only doesn’t it get any easier for the Wildcats, it gets much, much harder. LSU, which held the No. 1 spot in The Associated Press ratings, comes calling to Commonwealth Stadium Saturday. Defending national champion Florida follows LSU to Lexington.
Does a bowl remain in Kentucky’s future? Probably. A victory over Mississippi State or Vanderbilt would make the Cats eligible for a bowl. Georgia and Tennessee would remain. UK beat Georgia last year, so that’s a possible victory, and the Cats should have beaten Tennessee last year. UK could wind up with at least seven and maybe eight or nine victories.
University of Louisville fans had to get a chuckle out of South Carolina’s victory over Kentucky because Ron Cooper, who was fired as U of L’s head coach, is the Gamecocks’ defensive coordinator. Spurrier presented him with a game ball.
Steve Superior, now 15-0 against Kentucky, knows how to hurt an opponent, in this case, the entire Big Blue Nation.
The real UK fans
Rich Brooks has mentioned how loyal UK fans have been through thick and thin. He has no idea how loyal and how thin.
For instance, this season’s early success has caused me to think about two late friends who were as devoted as any Wildcat fan I have ever known. Like so many people who live in Louisville, they were from out in the state. Jim Caldwell from Paris and Rondal Bruce from Owensboro. Both went to UK and were devoted to the Big Blue.
One of Rondal and Carolyn Bruce’s daughters, Diane Anstine, who heads the Department of Economics at North Central College in Napierville, Ill., e-mailed her mother, Carolyn, who shared it with me. If you are a UK football fan, you will understand.
“Dad would have been so excited to see this team … Today I cried when I saw the rankings. All I could think about was that I wished my father was here to see this team. The last night I spent with him this spring, this was what we talked about. After I ran the Mini-Marathon, my father and I sat up that night talking about UK football. He had raised me as a UK football fan, taking me to games, explaining the nuances relating the history.
“He had season tickets since the 1950s. He loved both football and basketball, had been to the Penn State football game in 1977, to the Peach Bowl, the Outback Bowl, numerous NCAA tournaments, to Hawaii with the teams, etc., but he loved his football Cats. He was so optimistic, every year somehow.
“He died 10 days later of a sudden stroke. I knew then that this season would be special – since he had lived through all the last-minute losses, the heartbreak, the agony of being a longtime UK football fan. He would miss out on the good times, the fates are sometimes cruel in that way.
“For those of you who have been through this, you probably understand. I don’t have my Dad to talk to right now and it’s hard. Thanks for listening and Go Cats!”