Of all the great wins from Mark Stoops’ Kentucky tenure, the 2018 comeback at Missouri might be the most forgotten by the BBN. Don’t gloss over that incredible game.
As someone who attended every single UK game of the Stoops era up until the coronavirus pandemic, the 15-14 win in Columbia stands above the rest. Yes, even the win over Florida in The Swamp.
You see buzzer beaters in March Madness. It almost never happens in football. When Kentucky football fans witnessed that rare, miraculous moment, it always brought the agony of defeat. In 2018 we got to taste the thrill of victory as C.J. Conrad reeled in the game-winning score on an untimed down. A few things that stand out from that win:
1. A bad day to be a Terry Wilson hater. After a subpar performance at A&M and a horrible offensive outing against Vanderbilt, fans called for the QB to be benched. For the lack of a better term, I called all of those people idiots publicly. I took all of the crap and chewed on it gleefully when Gunnar Hoak and Danny Clark ruined their opportunities. Luckily, those moves did not completely cripple the offense, giving TW3 enough time to mount a game-winning touchdown drive.
2. Lynn Bowden called his own number. The offense moved the ball against Mizzou, yet stalled every time they got near midfield, whether it be from a dropped pass, penalty or some other self-inflicted wound. Needing something good to happen, Lynn Bowden said, “I got this coach,” and subbed himself in to return it to the house. “New life for the Wildcats!” Tom Leach screamed as he crossed the end zone.
3. All of the Three and Outs. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better example of pure domination than Kentucky’s second half defensive performance against Missouri. Playing against future NFL quarterback Drew Lock, the high-flying offense was completely grounded over the final 30 minutes. In the second half Missouri had ZERO first downs, going three and out eight times.
I can only compare Kentucky’s second half defensive shutout to the one inspired by Coach Yoast. “I don’t want them to gain another yard. You blitz all night! If they cross the line of scrimmage I’m going to take every last one of you out. You make sure they remember forever the night they played Titans.”
4. They mad. Mizzou fans still don’t believe DeMarkus Acy committed pass interference on Ahmad Wagner with four seconds to play. It probably would not have been called if Wagner, who had not caught a pass in his career, did not make a one-handed grab as he was pushed out of bounds.
5. The Celebration. To be on the field as Kentucky celebrated, after they nearly fought the Tigers in the tunnel prior to the game, was as close as I’ll ever come to Kentucky football nirvana. What does Kentucky football nirvana look like?
Most people think Stoops crowd surfing was the most GIFable moment of Kentucky’s win at Mizzou in 2018, but how about @RoushKSR running onto the field after the game-winning TD? pic.twitter.com/ZXPmmLVceH
— Tyler Thompson (@MrsTylerKSR) October 23, 2020
Jordan Jones was in the stands celebrating with fans. Luke Klausing, a 10-year old fighting cystic fibrosis alongside the team, was on Lonnie Johnson’s shoulders. There were hugs, tears and then, crowd-surfing.