LOUISVILLE — Even after the loss that could have helped end his Kentucky career in a bowl trip, senior defensive end Alvin "Bud" Dupree was all smiles.
"I can say that was one of the funnest games I've played in since I've been here at Kentucky," he said. "It was a great atmosphere."
It wasn't the ending that Dupree or any of the seniors on Kentucky's 5-7 team wanted, but he said they feel like they've left their mark on the program.
"I think we just showed people and our fellow teammates how to fight," said Dupree, who finished his Kentucky career with 248 tackles, 23.5 sacks (second-most in school history) and 38 tackles for loss while forcing four fumbles, including two in the 44-40 loss to the Cardinals on Saturday.
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"Just that you can overcome adversity at times if you just have a tough mentality. I think we'll leave that with them."
For fellow senior defensive lineman Mike Douglas, who scored a touchdown recovering one of Dupree's fumbles, it was hard to leave the locker room.
"It hurts real bad just thinking about taking that Kentucky jersey off and not being able to play next season with those boys, some of my best friends," he said. "That's just the hardest part of it."
Douglas hopes the seniors' lasting legacy will be playing for each other.
"That was the main thing that drove us," he said. "We always played for each other. When times got tough, we always looked to each other as a brotherhood, gave it our all for each other."
The senior defensive tackle said despite the 5-7 season and no bowl game, he's confident that Coach Mark Stoops is leading UK in the right direction.
"I believe in Coach Stoops to the Nth degree," Douglas said. "He is leading this team the right way.
"Like I was telling some of the juniors now: We look back, Bud and I look back, on how Avery (Williamson) left and we didn't want to leave like that. So now they have to look at how we left and say that's not how they want to go out. They want to go to a bowl, six wins and get it out of the way before it has to come to do-or-die, last game of the season."
Of his seniors, of which Kentucky started seven, Stoops seemed sad to see them go.
"Real special group to coach," he said. "They certainly left it on the field today, and proud of them and the tone that they set for our program as we move forward."
A little less conversation?
UK players downplayed the pre-game skirmishes that happened on the field with the Cardinals, with Dupree noting it was just "a little friendly rivalry. But it was fun."
Douglas likened it to a "sibling rivalry.
"Just brothers pushing each other around — what comes with any rivalry, like y'all saw last night with Virginia Tech and Virginia. It's the same thing: bad blood. It just is what it is," he said.
Louisville wide receiver DeVante Parker had a similar take: "They were talking smack. We were talking smack. It's what we always do before every game. We talk smack."
The coaches seemed a little more concerned about the back and forth, with Louisville's Bobby Petrino calling it "unfortunate.
"That's nothing that I like to see, nothing that belongs here," he said. "We need to stay on our side of the field and go out and compete in the game. ... I was worried about it getting out of hand, so we were trying to get them separated."
■ Kentucky's Austin MacGinnis set a school record for field goals made in a season with 21, topping the previous record of 19 by Joey Worley in 1985.
The redshirt freshman kicker, who also set a school record in the Tennessee game for longest field goal, was 4-for-5 from 20-30 yards and 5-for-7 from 40-49 yards. He set a Governor's Cup record with his four made field goals Saturday.
■ UK quarterback Patrick Towles became a part of history he probably didn't want when his final throw of the game was picked off by Louisville's Gerod Holliman.
It was the 14th interception of the season for Holliman, tying the NCAA record for a season held by Al Worley of Washington in 1968.
"It feels really good, especially against Kentucky in a rivalry game," Holliman said of the record. "I'm very excited."
He took the interception 65 yards before he was run down by the UK defense.
"At first I was thinking about the end zone, but once I crossed the 50, I was just like, 'When they come, I'm just going to go down,'" he said.