Kentucky football capped the 2022 regular season with a 26-13 Governor’s Cup rivalry win over Louisville.
Here is a closer look at what the win means beyond the scoreboard.
GOVERNOR’S CUP DOMINANCE CONTINUES
While Saturday’s win was not as dominant as the last three games in the series, which Kentucky won by a combined 153-44 score, the victory did give the Wildcats just their second four-game winning streak in the modern history of the rivalry.
Kentucky also won four straight against Louisville from 2007 to 2010. Only one of those wins came by more than one score though. The current four-game streak against Louisville marks Kentucky’s most dominant stretch in the series since winning six straight from 1912 to 1924 by a combined 220-0 margin.
Louisville Coach Scott Satterfield is now 0-3 against Kentucky. Cardinals quarterback Malik Cunningham, who came off the bench Saturday, is 0-4 against the Wildcats.
Meanwhile, Kentucky’s 2018 signing class has yet to lose to Louisville. Quarterback Will Levis and running back Chris Rodriguez end their college careers with a perfect record against Kentucky’s biggest rival.
WINNING SEASON CLINCHED
Beating Louisville will not erase all the sense of disappointment resulting from Kentucky’s inability to back up its preseason hype, but it at least ends the regular season on a high note.
The victory ensures a winning season for Kentucky for the sixth time in seven years. The only exception in that streak was 2020 when the Wildcats went 5-6 in a season that saw the SEC move to a conference-only 10-game regular season schedule due to the COVID-19 pandemic. A victory in the Wildcats’ bowl game would give the program eight wins for the fourth time in the last five years.
Considering Kentucky recorded eight wins in a season just three times between 1978 and 2018, that would still be a feat worth celebrating, even if it falls well short of summer hopes of contending in the SEC East and reaching a New Year’s Six bowl game.
With the win, Kentucky extended its nation-leading non-conference winning streak to 20 games. Kentucky’s last loss in a non-conference game came in the 2017 Music City Bowl. Kentucky has now won eight consecutive games against Power Five non-conference opponents.
IMPROVED BOWL OUTLOOK
With games still to play Saturday evening and the possibility that conference title game upsets next week create a trickle-down effect to mid-tier bowls, it is still too early to say for certain where Kentucky will play its bowl game. By beating Louisville, the Wildcats at least did their part to ensure the best bowl outcome possible.
Results elsewhere in the SEC offer a mixed bag of implications for Kentucky.
Missouri’s upset of Arkansas Friday ensures there will be enough bowl-eligible SEC teams to fill the league’s “Pool of Six” bowls. That means the Liberty Bowl in Memphis is back on the table for Kentucky. Meanwhile, Mississippi State’s Thanksgiving upset of Ole Miss and South Carolina’s Saturday upset of Clemson ensures there will be at least two eight-win teams available in the pool, likely taking Kentucky out of contention for the ReliaQuest Bowl in Tampa.
The Music City, Las Vegas and Liberty bowls remain the most likely destinations for Kentucky. With a 7-5 record, Kentucky should at least have preference in the SEC’s assignment process for the “Pool of Six” games over Florida, Arkansas and Missouri. That means Mitch Barnhart and Mark Stoops might have to pick between the Music City Bowl and its conflict with the Kentucky-Louisville men’s basketball game and the Las Vegas Bowl and a lost recruiting weekend due to its Dec. 17 date. The Liberty Bowl is generally considered the least prestigious of the “Pool of Six” games, but it does not present the same scheduling issues.
Tuesday’s College Football Playoff committee rankings will also have implications for Kentucky’s bowl after LSU’s loss to Texas A&M. If the committee drops LSU from No. 5 to outside the top 10 and out of position for a New Year’s Six bowl game, the Tigers would likely end up in the Citrus Bowl, meaning three eight-win teams would be available in the “Pool of Six” games.