Is Louisville still a rival? Outgoing Cats don’t think so.
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Is Louisville still a rival? Outgoing Cats don’t think so.

Nick Roush10 months


Article written by:Nick RoushNick Roush


Once upon a time, the Battle for the Governor's Cup was the most intense football game played annually within the state's borders. Now a pair of outgoing Kentucky football players don't even consider the Cards a rival. After all, Louisville doesn't play with the rest of college football's grown men in the SEC. Earlier this week I spoke with two Kentucky defensive linemen, Quinton Bohanna and Phil Hoskins, the latter of which is still keeping the door open for a possible return. When I asked the two in the candid conversation which football teams they loved to beat the most, Hoskins did not hesitate to say 'Tennessee.' "Sometimes I want to fight the dude in front of me so much, I forget we're playing football," Hoskins said. Even though Bohanna is from Memphis, he despises Florida even more. "Florida has got to be the luckiest team in America." Neither mentioned Louisville, a program many Kentucky fans consider public enemy No. 1. "I was going to speak on that. I think it's a disrespect to -- well, I don't know about past Kentucky stuff -- but to us, Louisville wasn't a rivalry to us," Bohanna said. The recent scoreboard would certainly agree with that statement, winning the past two games by a combined 78 points. Before running the Cards off the field, in 2017 Kentucky actually suffered a four-score loss to UofL, Bohanna and Hoskins' first Governor's Cup. Bohanna is willing to tip his cap to Lamar Jackson. "Lamar could've been at Western Kentucky and gave everybody problems," Bohanna said. "After that, it was like, why is this a rivalry? Auburn's got Bama and we got Louisville? We knew we were going to dominate just off strength. Like I told you, it's different body types. Even when they had Lamar, their O-line wasn't anything. It wasn't so much a rivalry to me. Maybe with Randall Cobb back in those days or whatever it was an intense rivalry, but not so much to me." Not even a teary-eyed Scott Satterfield could ignite the flames of hate in the Wildcats. "They lost by 50. He couldn't complain (about the Ls Down)." So how did the rivalry lose the fire in UK's locker room? Elsewhere, it just means more. Even though it was physical in the trenches, Hoskins and Bohanna loved playing an All-SEC schedule. "I couldn't have asked for a better opportunity, going up against the best of the best of the best," said Hoskins. "I don't care what nobody says, I feel like if we throw some of these players from these other divisions into SEC games, they're gonna get smashed. I don't care what the politics talking about -- oh he's a good offensive lineman, he's a good wide receiver -- I want them to come play SEC ball and then see if they are as good as everybody's saying because some conferences I feel like are just pee wee conferences." One of those is the Atlantic Coast Conference. The last two years Kentucky has played an ACC team in the postseason. I shared a theory with each player that I formulated after watching the UK victories:
Roush: "Here's a hypothesis I've formulated. Tell me if I'm wrong. Going into these last two bowl games against ACC teams, there was very much a -- we're going to go in there and shove them into a locker. Nerds. We're going to bully them around because they don't play real football. We'll show them how to play real football. Am I off? Phil: "No." Q: "Not at all. You're spot-on really." Phil: "No other team can play like a SEC team. I don't care what nobody in America says. There's no other team that play like SEC teams do." Q: "It's not even a playing style. It's just the size. Everybody is a grown man. We played NC State. I don't know em. I don't want to talk bad about them, but they got these little biddy guards." Phil: "These little boys," he interjected. Q: "I'm going to have my way with these dudes. When you play a Georgia or a Bama, when their center is 6'6" 330, it's just different. It's a different body type in the SEC."
Under Mark Stoops, Kentucky has developed a blue collar culture that places a premium on physicality in the trenches. With the help of players like Hoskins and Bohanna, the Wildcats have developed a reputation around the SEC. They will happily go toe-to-toe against the best of the best. When it's time to face an ACC school, their cavalry doesn't stand a chance in the trenches against Kentucky's tanks.

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