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Where I Come From: Memorable Moments in Kentucky Football

This post is sponsored by EA Sports NCAA Football 2011.

Memorable moments.  When you say "memorable moments" to a Kentucky fan, they will immediately respond with 1992 vs. the Duke Blue Devils in the national semifinals, or the James Lee highlight-reel dunk vs. the Duke in the 1978 national championship game.  Or perhaps the 3-pointer by Patrick Sparks to send the Wildcats into overtime vs. the Michigan State Spartans in 2005.

But Kentucky football has many memorable moments, too -- far too many to discuss in one article of reasonable length.  So instead of trying to do them all, I'll just constrain it to three.  I encourage everyone to add their most memorable moments, particularly the ones I'll leave out.

My criteria for judging memorable moments, in general, are the ones that jump straight into my mind when I think about the question.  I'll discuss them after the break.

Memorable Moment #1:  Kentucky vs. Tennessee, Nov. 20th, 1976

In this game, my recollection is that Kentucky completely outplayed the Tennessee Volunteers on their home field.  The Volunteers weren't very good that year, and despite the low score, they were never really in this football game.  I was listening to the game at home on the radio, and Derrick Ramsey was running all over the Vols, and the Wildcats completely dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the football.

Ramsey caught Tennessee in a blitz and hit Greg Woods on the right sideline for a 68-yard touchdown.  That proved to be the winning play, although the Wildcats threatened several other times to score in the game and were stopped by heroic Tennessee stands.  In the end, though, the 5-5 vols were no match for powerful Kentucky, and this victory clinched Kentucky's last SEC championship.

Memorable Moment #2:  The Bluegrass Miracle, Nov. 9th, 2002

This is the one game that must reside in every Kentucky fan's memory, as it is quite possibly one of the most dramatic plays ever to take place in college football in all its rich history.  The fact that it is a very negative memory for most Wildcat fans does nothing to diminish the impact it had, and continues to have, on the Big Blue Nation.

#9 LSU versus the upstart 6-3 Kentucky Wildcats in Commonwealth Stadium, as good a set up as you can get anywhere.  LSU leads by as many as 14 points in the third quarter, 21-7, but Jared Lorenzen teams up twice with Aaron Boone and once with Chase Harp to tie the game at 27.  Then, with 11 seconds remaining, Taylor Begley connects on a 29-yard field goal to put Kentucky up by 3, 30-27.  On the ensuing kickoff, the Wildcats special teams pinned LSU deep in its own territory, 90 yards away.  Marcus Randal, the LSU quarterback, connected on a pass play that left them 75 yards from pay dirt with only 2 seconds left on the clock.

I was listening to the end of the game on the radio on my way out of a car wash after having been working on a Saturday.  The crowd was going wild, you could barely hear the announcers on the radio, and it looked for all the world like UK had a huge upset on their hands.  The Kentucky players were so sure they could stop the last play that they went ahead and dumped the Gatorade on head coach Guy Morriss before the play even went off.

And then came the miracle.

Marcus Randal Heaved a pass about 50 yards toward his streaking receivers.  An LSU player and two Kentucky players tipped the ball on the way to Devery Henderson's outstretched fingers.  Henderson reeled it in, scored, and LSU beat Kentucky 33-30 in one of the most memorable finishes in all of college football history.  Relive it here on YouTube, if you have forgotten.

Memorable Moment #3:  Kentucky vs. LSU, Oct. 13th, 2007

This was the most remarkable Kentucky game I have ever witnessed.  #1 LSU once again came to Commonwealth Stadium and produced a game that will be long remembered by fans of both schools.  Unlike the Bluegrass Miracle, this one was the Bluegrass Redemption.

This was an even game from start to finish.  LSU got it done on the ground, and Kentucky through the air.  Andre' Woodson was at the top of his game, and this was the game in which Dicky Lyons Jr. made his famous thunderbolt hit on LSU's Craig Steltz.  It was a hard-fought, tough football game for both teams, and both teams came away bloody but unbowed.

In the end, UK simply outscored the Tigers, and held running back Charles Scott to one yard on a 4th and 2 in overtime with UK leading 43-37.  Braxton Kelly was credited with the big hit on Scott, and UK handed LSU its first defeat of the season.

I watched this game with rapt attention the whole time, and it was a remarkable college football game.

So what are your memorable moments?