The season of nightmares finally came to an end on Saturday night, as #15 Kentucky (9-3) delivered a 56-10 blowout loss to Louisville (2-10).
The loss was another historic mark for Louisville for all the wrong reasons. It marked the second time this season that Louisville’s opponent did not punt at any point, an ironic turn of events considering the Cardinals did not punt in last year’s Governor’s Cup game. It is also the largest margin of defeat the Cardinals have ever suffered at (new) Cardinal Stadium, the third time that Louisville set a new record this season.
Kentucky jumped to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, scoring on short touchdown runs from Benny Snell and Terry Wilson. Louisville quarterback Malik Cunningham scored the only touchdown of the night for the Cardinals on a 75-yard scramble.
The Wildcats quickly put the game out of reach in the second quarter. Snell added a 24-yard touchdown run to his stat line with 13:03 left. Wilson would later throw a pair of touchdown throws to Lynn Bowden, hitting the sophomore receiver on 28 and 13-yard throws.
Louisville’s Blanton Creque hit a 32-yard field goal in the second quarter, but Kentucky’s three touchdowns gave the Wildcats a 35-10 halftime lead.
Louisville had chances for points in the second half. They managed to get a pair of turnovers deep in the red zone. Cornelius Sturghill intercepted a pass, but Louisville’s following drive ended in a punt. An unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Micky Crum pushed Louisville into a 3rd and 22 situation, which the Cardinals did not convert. That drive also saw Malik Cunningham leave the game with an injury, forcing Sean McCormack to enter the game at quarterback.
The Cardinals’ second turnover came on another interception, with C.J. Avery picking off Lynn Bowden’s pass on a trick play. That drive ended in a three-and-out.
Kentucky would score three more touchdown in the final quarter. Wilson threw his third touchdown pass with 14:04 left, finding Josh Ali on a 32-yard strike. Asim Rose ran for a 75-yard touchdown, and then Kavosiey Smoke ran in for a 37-yard score. The 56 points marked a season-high for the Wildcats, surpassing their previous high of 48 against Murray State.
For Louisville, a season of unbelievable lows finally closed its doors for good. The Cardinals allowed 50+ points for the seventh time this season, and the sixth in the final seven games of the season. They also allowed another team to hit its season-high in yardage, with Kentucky tallying 604 total yards of offense.
The Wildcats were led by quarterback Terry Wilson, who had his best performance in his brief career with Kentucky. The sophomore finished with 340 total yards (261 passing, 79 rushing) and four total touchdowns (three passing, one rushing) with one interception. He also earned the Howard Schellenberger Award for his performance in the Governor’s Cup.
Benny Snell (18 carries, 100 yards, two touchdowns), Asim Rose (ten carries, 112 yards, one touchdown), and Terry Wilson all led a Kentucky rushing attack that had a season-high 340 yards on 7.8 yards per carry. Snell’s 18th 100-yard game of his career ties Sonny Collins for the most in Kentucky’s history. Lynn Bowden led the team with six catches for 86 yards and two touchdowns.
With the win, Kentucky retakes the series lead in the Governor’s Cup, holding a 16-15 advantage. The road team has now won the last four games in the rivalry.
Louisville finished with 305 total yards, 226 of it rushing, Malik Cunningham led the team with 89 rushing yards, 75 of it coming on his long touchdown run. Cunningham finished the season as the team’s leading rusher with 479 rushing yards, which is the lowest for a leading Louisville runner since 2008. Jeremy Smith had a team-high 13 carries for 76 yards. However, the Cardinals finished with 79 passing yards, the lowest single-game total since 1991.
Up next, well, the season is finally over. Louisville will be looking to hire its next head coach in the coming weeks, but the Cards open their 2019 season on Labor Day against Notre Dame.