Five things you need to know from UK football’s 26-13 win over No. 25 Louisville

Five things you need to know from Kentucky’s 26-13 win over No. 25 Louisville in an NCAA football game at Kroger Field:

1. Cats have total control of Governor’s Cup rivalry. Kentucky’s victory is its fourth straight over Louisville. That matches the longest win streak for UK in the modern history of the UK-U of L series (since 1994).

The Wildcats also beat the Cardinals four straight from 2007 through 2010 under Rich Brooks (2007-09) and Joker Phillips (2010).

UK also now has back-to-back victories over U of L in Lexington for the first time since 2007 and 2009.

Mark Stoops moved his record in the battle for the Governor’s Cup trophy to 5-4. That makes Stoops the only UK head man in the modern history of the rivalry with a winning mark vs. Louisville.

Cardinals Coach Scott Satterfield is now 0-3 vs. the Cats.

Kentucky now leads the all-time series with Louisville 19-15 and has won five of the past six meetings dating back to 2016.

2. Did Levis “go out” with a win? Kentucky’s Will Levis (17-6 as UK’s starting QB) tied Terry Wilson (17-8 from 2018 through 2020) for the second-most victorious starts by a UK QB in the 21st century. Only Andre Woodson (19-19 from 2004 through 2007) has more.

Levis completed 11 of 19 passes for 188 yards and two touchdowns Saturday. Importantly, he also played “clean football” with no turnovers.

There is ample speculation whether Levis — a projected first-round pick in the 2023 NFL Draft who has taken a fearsome pounding playing behind consistently suspect pass protection this season — will participate in UK’s bowl game.

Purely from a business perspective, one could understand Levis opting out.

Sitting out Kentucky’s postseason game would, however, conflict with the ethos that UK stars finish out their seasons in bowls. That has governed UK’s program since 2018 — when Josh Allen and Benny Snell opted in to playing in the Citrus Bowl vs. Penn State.

That set a tone that has been followed by Lynn Bowden and Logan Stenberg (Belk Bowl, 2019), Jamin Davis (Gator Bowl after 2020 season; and Wan’Dale Robinson, Darian Kinnard and Luke Fortner (last season’s Citrus Bowl).

3. UK special teams really were that. Much-maligned — fairly — for their role in what has been a disappointing overall Kentucky season, the Wildcats special teams went out on a high note.

Place-kicker Matt Ruffolo — boosted by a game filled with uneventful snaps and holds — set a career high by making four of four field goal attempts. Ruffolo was good from 43, 29, 35 and 40 yards.

Kickoff specialist Chance Poore drove all six of his kicks into the end zone, denying Louisville even one chance to return a kick.

Punter Wilson Berry averaged 42.7 yards on three kicks. His final punt essentially denied U of L any chance to steal victory when he pinned the Cardinals on their 1-yard line with a 39-yard beauty that Carrington Valentine downed with 4:12 left in the game.

Kentucky’s Dane Key (6) catches a pass for a touchdown against Louisville on Saturday. The freshman wide receiver tied running back Chris Rodriguez for the team lead with six TDs this season.
Kentucky’s Dane Key (6) catches a pass for a touchdown against Louisville on Saturday. The freshman wide receiver tied running back Chris Rodriguez for the team lead with six TDs this season.

4. “C-Rod watch.” Kentucky star running back Christopher Rodriguez entered Saturday’s game with 3,524 career rushing yards and needing 350 yards to break Benny Snell’s UK all-time-rushing record (3,873).

Historically, Louisville had been an opponent against whom Rodriguez could count on putting up big numbers — in two prior games, “C-Rod” had run for a combined 246 yards and averaged 9.8 yards a carry.

This year, Rodriguez carried 24 times for 120 yards vs. the Cardinals. It is the 20th-career game in which the McDonough, Ga., product exceeded 100 yards in a game, a new Kentucky school record.

Rodriguez now has 3,644 career rushing yards. To break Snell’s all-time rushing record, “C-Rod” will have to run for 230 yards in UK’s bowl game.

5. Cats extend non-league win streak. Kentucky’s victory was its 20th in a row in non-SEC games. It is the longest non-conference victory streak in the FBS.

The last non-league foe to best the Wildcats was Big Ten opponent Northwestern, 24-23, in the 2017 Music City Bowl.

Fashion police

For its final regular-season game of 2022, Kentucky wore black helmets with blue jerseys with white letters and numbers and blue pants.

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Chris Oats, whose career was ended by a stroke, honored by Kentucky football on Senior Day