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Some of UK’s best season openers

Some seasons started off with a bang

Kentucky v Louisville

The first game of your college football season is unique in several ways, and often a very special one for the team and fans. No matter what the expectations for your team are, you’re sitting at 0-0, and even if you’re projected to be one of the worst teams in the country nobody can prove it until the action has begun. An exciting win in the opener can jumpstart your team to more wins afterward, and get things rolling on the right track.

Under Coach Stoops Kentucky has preferred to ease into things each season, often scheduling from the MAC and Sun Belt to avoid 0-1 at all costs while still providing the team with a minor challenge. Back in the day, though, they played some wild games against rivals, took road trips, and preferred to skip the appetizers and go right for the main course. Here’s a look at some of the best from the archives, most of which I doubt many UK fans still remember:

2008: Kentucky 27, Louisville 2

Now this is a score you can remember and tell all your friends at home about. 15 years and three days ago, UK went to Cardinal Stadium and stymied U of L for four straight quarters under Rich Brooks, with the Cards’ only points coming off a sack in the 4th quarter (which actually did bring the score to 10-2). Beating Louisville’s always a great way to start your year.

1998: Kentucky 68, Louisville 34

Another great day at Cardinal Stadium! Scoring more points than in any other game in the rivalry’s history since a 73-0 1922 shutout, UK put on a show in the years of the Air Raid, Tim Couch (threw for seven touchdowns that day!), and some extremely entertaining big blue football.

1976: Kentucky 38, Oregon State 13

One of the cool things about the MAC teams Stoops likes to schedule in nonconference openers is that most of them are from bordering states and lots of their fans can come enjoy their team’s kickoff too. Well, apparently Oregon State had an itch for a Pacific to Bluegrass flight to start their season way back when because UK’s only ever played two Pac-12 teams in any football games anywhere, and this thumping to start the 1976 season was one of them.

1974: Kentucky 38, Virginia Tech 7

Virginia Tech and Kentucky have quite the football history, having played each other a total of 20 times, and on this occasion the ‘Cats started the season off with a 31-point blowout on the road in Blacksburg, which doesn’t sound easy regardless of how good VT was at the time. I guess it’s only been in the past couple decades that Lane Stadium’s had “earthquake games.” And now for my favorite one...

1914: Kentucky 87, Wilmington (OH) 0

...UK’s highest scoring game ever! The most lopsided football game in favor of the ‘Cats in school history came on September 26th, 1914, against Wilmington (OH), who currently plays in Division III, where hopefully their games have been a bit more competitive.

Common theme with season openers: an opener’s no good unless you win it. No matter who you played or how exciting the game was, you’ve gotta win it—especially at home—and start 1-0. Here’s to a new season! Go ‘Cats!