LEXINGTON, Ky. — It’s been 32 years since Kentucky left Knoxville, Tenn., with a win.
Bill Ransdell was at quarterback for the Wildcats on that Nov. 24, 1984 afternoon at Neyland Stadium. It was the last regular season game of the season for coach Jerry Claiborne’s Kentucky team. The Wildcats would go on to beat Wisconsin in the Hall of Fame Bowl a month later.
Tony Robinson was under center for the Johnny Majors-coached Vols. Tennessee had won five out of the last six matchups against the Wildcats before 1984. The Volunteers lead the all-time series 78-24 with nine ties.
Kentucky takes on Tennessee at noon ET Saturday. It’s a game both sides need to stay in SEC East title contention.
We caught up with Ransdell for his memories of the 17-12 Kentucky win in 1984 — a game then Kentucky running back George Adams scored twice in.
“It was phenomenal,” Ransdell said. “I think even then they had 100,000, 95,000 people. I mean, when they get loud, it is something to be there and be around. LSU was interesting as well, but I’m telling you, it was electric. In ‘84 we came out and I guess one of our captains decided we would run through their stretches. I can’t remember, but it started the fireworks early for us. It kinda helped us get settled in pretty early.”
“We had a heck of a defensive struggle,” Ransdell said. “Tony Robinson was running and our defense contained him as much as anyone could contain Tony back then. When we beat them in ‘84 it was so nice. Everybody took notice. We had the Beer Barrel in the locker room. Everyone knew what was at stake.”
The rivalry: Then vs. now
“I think if somebody doesn’t win at some point and shake it up on the field, it can get a little stale,” Ransdell said. “Nobody’s had a victory to talk about these last few years. I think whatever it is, I don’t know if you get bored with it, but it doesn’t mean the same.”
What a win would mean for the Wildcats
“I think it would be huge,” Ransdell said. “We had a tough game last week against Georgia. I think it would be great. Beat Tennessee there, come back against Austin Peay and finish up with Louisville. Then you’ve got some momentum and you’re going bowling. I think it could be great, having seven wins going into Louisville. That’d be huge.”