KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Kentucky football was one quarter away from changing the narrative and taking the lead in the SEC East Division on Saturday.
Alas, Georgia rallied for a 27-24 win at Commonwealth Stadium and it was basketball time in the Bluegrass State once more.
Sure, the Wildcats can still make modern era history with their first winning season in SEC play since 1977 when Coach Fran Curci directed a 10-1 season that included a sterling 6-0 league mark.
Of course, Kentucky was on NCAA probation and not eligible for a bowl game or the SEC title (Alabama was 7-0 in league play, anyway).
In 1978, things took their normal course, with the football Wildcats going 4-6-1, and Coach Joe B. Hall directing Jack Givens and his teammates to a 94-88 win over Duke in the NCAA Basketball Tournament championship game.
It’s not that Kentucky football is not trying — there has been major investments made of late, a new $45 million practice facility an stadium renovation part of $180 million invested under athletic director Mitch Barnhart.
The Wildcats haven’t been to a bowl game since 2010, but Barnhardt told the Lexington Herald-Leader before the season there were no ultimatums for coach Mark Stoops.
“Everyone knows me well enough to know that there’s no such thing as ‘bowl or bust’ with me,” he said. “Do I want to get to a bowl game? Absolutely.”
Location: Lexington, Ky., population 308,428
Football series record: Tennessee leads 78-24-9
Famous alumni: Actress Ashley Judd, NFL star Randall Cobb, Current NBA Stars Anthony Davis, John Wall, DeMarcus Cousins, Rajon Rondo; Former Los Angeles Lakers coach Pat Riley, NFL Hall of Famer George Blanda, Republic of Korea ambassador Sung Chul Yang.
By the numbers
0 — Kentucky coach Mark Stoops is 0-for-3 against Tennessee coach Butch Jones since both were hired to their current posts.
1 — SEC East Division schools have only one win over SEC West Division schools this season, and that was Kentucky’s 40-38 victory over Mississippi State on Oct. 22. The SEC East is 1-9 vs. the SEC West so far this season.
4 — This marks the first time the Wildcats have had four SEC wins since 2006 and only the second time since 1999.
7 — Tailback Boom Williams is No. 7 on Kentucky’s all-time rushing list with 2,239 yards since debuting in 2014. Williams averages an impressive 7 yards per carry over the course of his career.
12 — Kentucky is averaging 12 years per punt return — superior to Tennessee’s 11.7-yard average, it’s worth noting.
13— A total of 13 former Kentucky players are currently on NFL rosters, most notably Alcoa product Randall Cobbs.
20 — Wildcats coach Mark Stoops is 2-16 when Kentucky scores less than 20 points and 4-21 when the opponent scores 20 or more points.
24 — Stoops has lost 24 of 26 games when Kentucky’s opponent has held the lead at halftime — but 2-3 this season in that circumstance.
35 — Kentucky’s 35 points in its 35-21 win over Missouri on Oct. 29 were the most the Wildcats have scored in an SEC road win since 2007.
1984 — The last time Kentucky beat Tennessee at Neyland Stadium was in 1984.