The 1996 battle for the Governor's Cup always will be remembered for a number of things. It was the first game ever at Louisville's Papa John's Cardinal Stadium. It was one of Tim Couch's greatest days as a Wildcat. But for most of us, who covered the game down on the field, it was a blistering summer afternoon, one of the hottest any of us can remember.
Fast forward to Sunday's UK's 27-2 win over the Cards and you'll find many of us comparing this weekend's game to that infamous stadium opener. The temperature on the Field Turf prior to Sunday's game was 107 degrees. By mid-game, WHAS-TV in Louisville was reporting the temperature had reached 120 degrees on the stadium floor.
Rest assured, it was hot. No wonder they call the place "the oven."
From my vantage point, I didn't see many, if any, players on the UK sidelines cramping up. There were reports that several Wildcats lost their lunches at some point during the game.
Defensive tackle Myron Pryor recorded the first touchdown of his football playing career, scooping up a fumble and racing 72 yards for six, capping off an incredible performance by the Wildcat defense. Moments later, Pryor was heaving near the bench.
It was one of those days.
Fortunately, there were no reports of the folks at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium running out of water, as they did in '96. Security personnel actually distributed water to the photographers and videographers working the sidelines, which was much appreciated.
Cats Get Defensive
It was painfully obvious that both teams have been hit hard by graduation. The Cats featured new faces at the quarterback, receiver and running back positions. Likewise, Louisville.
Neither team could muster much offense, but give new UK quarterback Mike Hartline credit for managing the game and making just one mistake -- an intentional grounding call that resulted in a safety, the only points of the game for the Cards.
UK's defense was as good as advertised. Kentucky's front four stuffed Louisville's running game, limiting the Cards to 53 yards rushing, while forcing five turnovers.
The Wildcats have tremendous closing speed on the defensive side of the ball. Micah Johnson and Braxton Kelley led the Cats in tackles.
The good news for Wildcat fans is the win over Louisville gives UK a chance to to go 4-0, before heading into conference play at Alabama.
That would be a giant step towards securing a third straight bowl bid.
Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.