UK Football

Blasts from the past: Looking back at UK's most memorable football games

Herald-Leader sports columnist Mark Story has looked back at all the Kentucky football games since 1983, when the Herald-Leader began its electronic archive, and has selected his 25 most memorable games.

We hold this truth to be self-evident: From 1983 to the present, there are many, many, many college football programs which have been more successful than Kentucky.

Yet over that time frame, I wonder how teams many have played more memorable games than UK?

On Sept. 3, 1983, Jerry Claiborne won his first game as Kentucky head coach in the debut of his second season on the job.

On Jan. 2, 2009, Rich Brooks won his third-straight bowl game.

In between, Kentucky football has:

Seen its fans trying to tear down the goal posts in a game UK actually lost.

Seen its fans trying to tear down the goal posts in a game in which that season's eventual national champion actually lost.

Kentucky has lost a game 73-7.

Kentucky has won a game 77-17.

UK has played seven overtimes in one game — and lost hauntingly.

UK has intercepted seven passes in one game — and lost hauntingly.

Kentucky has had a back run for 299 yards in a game.

Kentucky has had a quarterback throw for 528 yards in a game.

Kentucky has had a player return both a kickoff and a punt for touchdowns in a game — at The Swamp.

The Wildcats have lost on a last-play Hail Mary that became one of the most celebrated plays in college football lore.

The Wildcats have survived a last-play Hail Mary when the game-losing touchdown was stopped with a shoe-string tackle 1 yard from disaster.

UK has played in a bowl game against Joe Paterno.

UK has played in a bowl game against Bobby Bowden.

Kentucky has lost 24 years in a row to one team and 22 years in a row to another.

More stunning than either of those streaks, Kentucky had a coach lose five years in a row to Vanderbilt — and not lose his job over it.

What prompts this stroll down UK football memory lane is that the powers that be have asked me to come up with a list of my 25 most memorable University of Kentucky football games since 1983.

Starting today, we will reveal one game a day from that list until Sept. 4, the day before Rich Brooks & Co. open the 2009 season against Miami (Ohio).

We've launched the list to promote a pretty cool feature on our Web site.

Every UK game story in football and men's basketball that has appeared in the Lexington Herald-Leader since 1983 (when the newspaper's archive went, as we say, electronic) is available online.

Go to the "Blasts From The Past" section on the right side (as you face the screen) of the front page of

You will find databases that allow you to search for games via several criteria, ranging from date played to opponent to games UK won or lost by specific margins.

Want to remind yourself that Kentucky actually has beaten Tennessee in football?

You can go to Blasts From The Past and read the gamer from UK's 17-12 win in Knoxville on Nov. 24, 1984 (which would have run in the Nov. 25, 1984, newspaper).

Have a bet about who caught the final touchdown pass Tim Couch threw in a Kentucky uniform?

Find the game story from the Jan. 1, 1999, Outback Bowl and you will see the answer is Anthony White.

Have a masochistic streak and want to relive Steve Spurrier's 73-7 annihilation of Bill Curry from Sept. 10, 1994? Well that game story is there, too.

As for the list of my 25 most memorable UK football games (1983-present), when you get to the end you will find that 15 of them are Kentucky victories.

Included are wins over teams ranked No. 1, No. 9, No. 11 and No. 19 in the country.

Ten games on my memorable list are UK losses.

Seared into the soul of every Long-Suffering UK Football Fan are some of the most agonizing defeats any fan base in any sport has ever had to endure.

The "Lightning Game" overtime loss to Louisville. The four-overtime gut wrencher against Tennessee. Of course, The Bluegrass Miracle.

Remember, the list that will be unveiled between now and Sept. 4 is of memorable games.

Even with all its historic struggles, the UK football program sure produces a lot of those.