Lynn Bowden had just posted his best performance as a Wildcat when he shared a story with Kentucky fans who’d just witnessed their team pound Murray State, 48-10.
Speaking to the UK radio network as the Player of the Game, he said, “I saw something the other day on the internet that blew my mind: ‘Don’t believe the hype about Kentucky.’ “
Then he asked a legitimate question.
“Why not?” he said. “You better believe it.”
This was a guy who could back his talk with his walk on Heroes Day at Kroger Field. Bowden had just finished making a career-best eight catches for another career high – 89 yards. He was quarterback Terry Wilson’s favorite target in the Wildcats’ win over the Racers, which pushed Kentucky’s record to 3-0.
“We’re hungry,” Bowden said. “I feel like everybody fell asleep on us. Even with us beating Florida. We’re out to make a statement that Kentucky football is changing.”
There’s still a mountain of work to do, but the momentum is in place. It seemed as though the Cats might just slog their way to a victory but that’s only because of Kentucky’s four first-half drives; they were all long ones, three ending in scores and the other likely would have, if not for a major penalty that short-circuited a drive.
The second half was a different story. Five drives – five scores, but they weren’t all grinders.
Zy-Aire Hughes scored on a 49 yard pass… from Benny Snell, who had flipped the ball to Hughes on what looked like a double reverse. But the flip technically was a pass by Snell, which officially made him the proud owner of a long TD toss, thanks to some nifty broken-field running by Hughes, who found the end zone for the first time as a Wildcat.
Another newbie scored a TD, Allen Dailey on a 23-yard strike from Gunnar Hoak. And thanks to some tough runs by freshman tailback Chris Rodriguez, Kentucky found itself on the two-yard line, where redshirt freshman QB Danny Clark sold the Racers on a play fake and danced into the end zone for a first-time TD of his own.
“That was our goal in the second half,” Bowden said. “Get these young boys in and get them some experience.”
It’s a pretty good bet most of the new guys won’t see much action next Saturday. That’s when the mighty Mississippi State Bulldogs come to town, with another chance for the Wildcats to win some respect and show people they’re serious about making a run for the SEC Eastern Division title.
“Our ultimate goal at the end of the day is getting to Atlanta,” Bowden said. “If we win that game we’re going to send a big statement throughout the country.”
They’ll need more of the Wilson-to-Bowden connection.
“I told Terry, whenever you get a chance just give me a chance and I’ll make you look good,” Bowden said. “I’m fast. I tell him to throw it out there.”
Wilson never found Bowden with the kind of deep ball they employed in the win over Florida, but Wilson did fling it afar more than once, trying to hit UK receivers streaking down the sideline.
Might we see more of the same against MSU?
“I don’t want out give out all the cheese,” Bowden said with a smile, “but you can expect some of it.”
And evidently we can expect maximum effort from a team full of veterans, playing for one another. “Everybody’s there for each other,” Bowden said. “Whoever falls, we pick ‘em up.”
And if they find a way to beat Mississippi State, maybe the hype about Kentucky becomes a bit more believable.