The game started off about as well as you could ask for if you are Mark Stoops and Scott Satterfield, as both teams marched 75-yards down the field to try and make an impact statement early in this game. But it was Kentucky that decided they were going to control the tempo and momentum of this game early, and they went in at the half up 24-7.
The second half continued to be much of the same, as the Cats flexed their muscles on the ground and showed who the dominant program in the state is.
Chris Rodriguez got back to being his old-self in big games as he ran all over the Louisville defense for his eight 100-yard game this season. Right alongside him was his quarterback Will Levis, and a host of others running all over Cardinal Stadium.
All that matters is the Governor’s Cup will remain in Lexington for another 365 days.
If you weren't able to watch the beatdown of the Cards tonight here are four quick things to know.
The Rivalry is back
In their first meeting since 2019, the animosity between these two programs picked up right where it left off.
It started with some early fireworks alongside the Kentucky sideline, and you could see players chirping for the rest of the night.
The basketball rivalry can have its moments, but it is obvious that neither of these teams is very fond of the other on the gridiron.
There was actually a play in the first half where it appeared Louisville QB Malik Cunningham threw a punch at Kentucky safety Vito Tisdale, but Cunningham was not ejected, and no flag was thrown.
Also, give us all the Will Levis L’s down touchdown celebrations.
Will Levis is going to be good
Levis has had his fair share of struggles this year, but he is going to be really good next season folks.
He showed it in both facets of the offense this evening as he finished 14/18 for 149 yards through the air, while adding 113 yards on the ground and four touchdowns.
It obviously took some time for Levis to get comfortable in this new scheme, but he has absolutely settled in and seems to be clicking on all cylinders with Liam Coen. Quarterback play has been pretty spotty these last several seasons, but as next year gets here Kentucky will have one of the best in the SEC.
JuTahn McClain earning more touches
Coming into this game, the expectation was Kentucky would use a heavy dose of Chris Rodriguez and Kavosiey Smoke to punish Louisville’s undermanned defense. However, it was second-year man JuTahn McClain who got a lot of work in the first half and finished with six carries for 33 yards. Most of those carries came in the early drives when the game was still well within reach for both teams, so it’s nice to see this coaching staff believes in McClain and his future in this backfield, which could be losing Rodriguez to the NFL after this season.
Remember, McClain was one of the six football players suspended early in the season, and he didn’t make his debut until Game 5 vs. Florida. Even with that setback, McClain has slowly earned more snaps and become more of a key figure as the season has wound down.
For all of the good Rodriguez and Smoke have done, McClain is probably a better duel-threat back in what’s become a more pass-focused offense under Liam Coen. The future looks bright for this
Wan’Dale Robinson breaks single-season catch record
Wan’Dale Robinson has been a much welcomed site to the Big Blue Nation. After several seasons with the receiving room being a huge question mark, Robinson has shown that the best skill-players in the country can come to Lexington and shine under Coen's new offense.
He did just that again tonight as he had nine catches for 97 yards, while also catching the longest pass of the game at 27 yards.
To go along with a solid season in the blue and white, he will also go down in the record books for the ‘Cats also, as he broke the single season reception record in the second quarter of tonight's game.
To give you an idea of how big of a beatdown this was, fourth-string RB LaVell Wright had a 41-yard rushing score, Kentucky didn’t punt until late in the 4th quarter, had a season-high in rushing yards, and backup QB Beau Allen played for just the third time this season.
More importantly, Kentucky has outscored Louisville 153-44 in the last three meetings.
You love to see it.
UK fans just vibin to it now. HahahaZ# pic.twitter.com/pjqO2EpYgh— Big Blue Drew (@BigBlueDrew33) November 28, 2021
Don’t knock Kentucky’s SOS
Following the results of the final full College Football Saturday of 2021, Kentucky has faced nine bowl teams and gone 6-3 against them, including wins over Florida, LSU, at South Carolina, and at Louisville.
For all of the grief the Cats have gotten recently over their supposed lucky schedule this season, they’ve faced about as many teams who will make the postseason as you’ll see among any team in America.
Vince Marrow talked smack DURING THE GAME
Albeit it was with a minute left in the game, but I can’t recall seeing a coach talk smack during a game.
Dang we were a 3 point underdog lol. Go Big Blue.— CoachMarrowUK (@vincemarrow) November 28, 2021
Defense finally steps up
This defensive unit has had its fair share of rough moments in the middle part of this season. They stepped up big and won games for this team early in the season, and they did just that tonight.
Now trust me I understand that this Louisville offense isn't anything special, but Malik Cunningham does have the tools to be a dangerous player each time he steps on the field. This Kentucky defense absolutely shut him and this entire Louisville offense down.
Tonight also allowed for some younger players to get some extra run, and as it stands there is a lot to be excited about for the years to come. Add in a few key returnees (and a few surprises), a few key additions from the transfer portal, and this unit should be just as talented next season.