UK superfan Beatty London was Kentucky's good luck charm at Florida earlier this season, so KSR sent him to Missouri to see if he had any more luck for the Cats. Turns out he did, and he wrote about his experience in enemy territory for a second time this season.
I couldn't sleep much Friday night.
I was excited to be heading to Columbia for only my second SEC away football game. I asked my 13-year-old stepson, Jordan, to go on the road trip with me. He doesn’t even like sports but he enjoys learning about photography. I convinced him the trip would allow him to practice his photography skills and possibly get a pic or video featured on KSR. We left at 6:30 a.m. Saturday morning. Traffic was excellent and we arrived on Missouri's campus around 1 p.m. Central Time. Walking to the stadium I saw a few blue shirts scattered amongst the Tiger tailgaters. I thought arriving by 1 o'clock would be plenty of time to catch the football team exiting the buses but then I remembered that the game started at 4 p.m. Eastern Time and not 4 p.m. Central Time. We were three blocks away from the other side of the stadium when the team arrived a little bit after 1 p.m. Central Time. I knew I wouldn't get a chance to hold up my “MIND STATE OF A CHAMPION” poster board as they entered the stadium. I could only hope my blunder wouldn't cause the team to start the game slow!
Off to the tailgate...
We tailgated in Lot M which is a five-minute walk to the stadium and directly in front of the Mizzou wrestling/volleyball arena. There was a concert on the other side of the wrestling arena for the annual black and gold intrasquad wrestling match. The atmosphere was electric and I was ready to start tailgating! The weather was an amazing 67 degrees and sunny. I met up with my friend Rob who I've known since middle school. He was with his wife Joy and daughter Melinda. They all live in Columbia and Rob attends all the UK vs Mizzou football and basketball games. This was the perfect opportunity to reconnect and he even had two tickets for me and Jordan. Rob had $800 riding on the game after betting 11 of his friends. He said he had been talking trash all week, and if UK lost, one of the guys was going to post a funny pic of him wearing a Mizzou tank top on FB.
Our tailgate was hosted by a sweet lady named Mrs. Nancy and her husband. They were flying a Cal and Navy flag with a Missouri flag on top representing mom, dad, and son's schools. They offered me a brat burger. It was my first time seeing a brat pattied into a burger and it was delicious. I whipped out a 2007 Henry McKenna BIB Single Barrel and shared it with Rob and the Missouri fans at our tailgate. They absolutely loved it. Rob had asked me to bring him a bottle of WILDCAT LOVE and the Mizzou fans got a kick out of how the bottle predicted the end of the Florida streak. We talked about Drew Lock and some fans were telling me about how he's gotten a lil bit cocky this year and I thought to myself that he's probably already got an agent. No sooner as the thought left my mind one of the Mizzou fan's said the same thing, jokingly of course.
I asked some of the Mizzou fans for score predictions. Some of them thought Mizzou would blow us out but there is no way they could have been serious. I mean, do they even know about UK's defense?! My prediction was 28-14.
After about two hours of tailgating we headed to the stadium five minutes before kickoff.
My stomach was full and I was hyped!
We sat with Rob and his family in the middle section of the arena in section CC row 42. It turned out to be an excellent seat because we were on the side of the end zone where Lynn and CJ would both eventually score their touchdowns. We were between the Missouri marching band in the lower arena and the newly renovated upper level. Missouri is in the middle of a five-phase $175 million dollar stadium renovation in which they are building VIP suites and a restaurant in one of the end zones. On the other side directly across the field was the UK section, band, and cheerleaders and parents. Rob immediately said to me, "Two years ago there were many more Kentucky fans at the game." I'm not sure why more fans didn't travel but I'm sure glad I did, it was a beautiful day!
I was excited that we scored first and that Chance got his chance. Being right behind the band, a lot of my cheering was getting drowned out
. The band was even competing with UK's band and trying to play louder and over them at times. I was much more calm and confident this game. I engaged a few Missouri fans sitting close by. We talked about Drew Lock and one of their defensive lineman playing on Sundays. They showed a digital rendition of the future VIP end zone renovation which is sure to bring in some people with deep pockets. When I did cheer, I could hear some Mizzou fans mocking me, screaming "offense" immediately after I screamed "defense.
For the most part, Beatty was chill.
During the first half, I was pleased with Terry. This is a man’s game, so I wasn’t worried that the other QBs were getting a shot to prove themselves. I realized both teams were fresh to start out, UK was in hostile territory, and Mizzou was a desperate adversary, hungry for a win and they came out energized by their home crowd. The Missouri fans were excited and loud but the crowd noise was not our problem. I looked at the body language of the teams as they were heading into locker room. Missouri was bouncing up and down, jogging, some dancing, many talking trash to our players. Because of the renovations both teams have to exit the same path only separated by a steel barricade with a banner on it. Our players, some with their heads down, looked confused. Nobody jogged to the locker room, but some stopped to talk smack right back to the Missouri players.
Missouri seemed energized, but could they keep it up? I felt like they expended a lot of energy in the first half. I was confident UK would make some great adjustments at halftime, so that kept me positive.
I immediately texted a friend, “Keep the faith, only down by 11.” I looked at Rob and he was sweating bullets, already starting to have doubts and fears.
Bathroom lines moved really fast, which is always a plus!
During the third quarter I started to think about what Tim Tebow said on SEC Nation
when he said he didn't know if this UK offense can come back when down a large lead. Eleven points was definitely manageable.
My friend Rob was starting look like a wreck. All of his Missouri fans were texting him giving him a hard time and teasing him. He was worried more than ever now. Nobody wants to lose $800, but I think Rob was more concerned about his pride because he had been talking trash all week to these guys and now they were getting payback and about to take his money. After UK's defense got the first three and out, I told him, “Missouri is not going to score in the second half.”
It was just a feeling I had because Missouri looked a little flat on that 1st drive, like they were emotionally spent and our defense had made the proper half time adjustments and were the energized ones.
About five minutes into the fourth quarter I noticed a few Mizzou fans leaving, some with little kids, some thinking the game was a lock. The stadium didn’t clear out but it was noticeable that some sections were emptying out. Our offense hadn’t figured anything out just yet. So I decided to speak something into existence. I told Rob, "This is going to be one of the greatest comebacks and I’m so happy I drove up to this game to be here. We will remember this one forever."
Now he seemed to be getting a little annoyed with my overly optimistic feelings about the game. I heard his 12-year-old daughter say to him “Is Beatty psychic?” and Rob quickly replied, “No, he’s just hoping that what he says will come true.” I remember my stepson looking at me with the “This ain’t looking too good for UK" look on his face and I looked him dead in his eye and said with confidence, "NEVER GIVE UP!"
And then it happened...
I saw Lynn Bowden coming in for a punt return and I immediately realized he’s going to have a short field because of the excellent work by our defense. On top of that was the fact that Lynn got robbed last game against Vandy. I knew he was hungry to make something happen. I looked Rob directly in his face and said, “He’s about to run this back.” Rob is now ignoring me as I think he’s now contemplating leaving early like some of those Mizzou fans so he can save face! I sent the same text to three of my friends: “Here comes a touchdown baby, we got this!” After Lynn scored I looked at Rob and his whole demeanor changed. He looked a little in shock and started to regain some hope... Now he had to take my words seriously!
I told him about how I learned my lesson last year at the Florida game. I believed the entire game until we got that holding penalty, and I let my faith drop. I owe Austin McGinnis and the BBN an apology, but now I’ve learned my lesson. Until the last whistle blows, I’m keeping the faith no matter what
. I speak into existence ONLY WHAT I WANT TO HAPPEN... it damn sure worked in Florida and I wasn't about to give up now!
So I tried it again…
This time I said someone on defense is about to get a turnover, and for some reason, I thought it would be Chris Westry. Now this didn’t come true per se but the defense was producing three and outs so who could complain? We did create a fumble, we just didn’t recover it. I'm watching Mizzou fans tense up right now even though they are still cheering loud…fortunately they just don’t cheer louder than Kroger Field so it wasn’t intimidating, and I’m staying chill with a calm confidence.
All of my words are positive: “We have time it’s all good,” “We straight,“ “We got this,”… even with the pass interference call you can hear the calm confidence in my voice as if I knew we were getting the call. I knew there was no turning back now, so I did what only Beatty could do: I gave up belief and at that moment before the Conrad touchdown, I KNEW WE WERE GOING TO WIN
. I honestly wasn’t sure what the play call would be as I kind of assumed Terry would just scramble for the TD. Mizzou's hype song “Knuck if you Buck” was blasting and Mizzou fans were screaming.
[caption id="attachment_249693" align="alignnone" width="1578"] © Denny Medley | USATSI
After we scored, this was the only time that I kinda talked smack, but I didn’t look at any Mizzou fans directly. I did not even face their direction. I just looked at my homeboy Rob who just won $800 and screamed, "What the f*** did I tell you? Did I not just predict that s***?" Me and him are hugging, giving high fives, slapping hands. His wife let out a few screams while my stepson and his daughter have huge smiles on their faces in amazement. Rob, sensing that I’m going to repeat “What the f*** did I tell you?” at least four more times, says to me, “Let’s get out of here!"
So we head back to the tailgate to get our chairs and we thank Mrs. Nancy and we reminisce about the game. I tell Rob I might have to drive back for basketball season and one of the Missouri fans from the tailgate says to me jokingly, "Hell Naww, you are not welcome back!” We laughed and I told them how UK fans have seen that type of thing happen to us all the time but it’s like pouring salt on an open wound. Missouri fans didn't really want to hear it, they were pissed. So, my stepson and I grab our things, Rob gives me his address so we can meet up for dinner later at this house, and we head straight for the UK busses to see the team and coaches exit the stadium. To our luck the UK buses are now parked on the side of the stadium closest to us.
This is one of my favorite parts...
Many of the same fans recognized me from waiting at the buses after the Florida win
. We were all elated, many were saying the same thing about how we usually end up on the wrong side of games like this, so I told some fans, “IF THERE IS ANY SEASON THAT YOU BELIEVE IN THE IMPOSSIBLE, IT'S THIS SEASON!"
I love seeing the families of the players. Of course you know I was holding my “MIND STATE OF A CHAMPION” sign and as soon as the players saw it they would speak, acknowledge it, even the coaches were smiling and thanking all of us for the support. I got to meet Terry Wilson’s mom. What a sweet woman. I’m a momma’s boy, so seeing him interact with her hits close to home. I told Terry that I was proud of him and that “CHAMPIONS WORK THROUGH ADVERSITY “ in which his momma echoed “THAT’S RIGHT."
Lynn Bowden was visibly spent after the game and rightfully so. He left it all on the field. Josh Allen was exhausted too but he still was nice enough to let my stepson Jordan record a message from him to the BBN. Conrad was standing beside me explaining to some family members how the team was thinking about a run play and he was like, "NO, give it to me." Kash "Money" Daniel gave me a forearm to forearm bump with his good arm. I was on cloud nine!
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I even told Mitch Barnhart and his wife, “good game!” I told Tom Leach, “good game.” I told one of the electricians who works in my division at UK but travels with the team to away games, "PPD good game!" He laughed when we heard it and recognized me saying it. Then we waited for Coach Stoops to bring up the rear. I told him great work and I shook hands with Benny Snell's dad and took a pic with a fan before my stepson and I headed to the car. By this time most everyone had already cleared the stadium which was awesome!
It was an amazing moment, not only did I witness another awesome game, but I got to bond with my stepson. He loved it. He's not even a sports fan and he had a blast. He asked me when was the next game. I explained to him how Georgia was next Saturday and the winner gets a trip to the conference championship vs. the winner of LSU and Alabama.
This moment reminded me of what Bunchy Stallings said to me when I told him I couldn’t come to the third game of the season because my wife and I were going out of town to celebrate our two-year anniversary: ”SOME THINGS ARE BIGGER THAN FOOTBALL."
He was right and I was very thankful!
Thanks UK Football and thanks KSR. Our time is now!
-- Beatty London