You may have watched it. You may have celebrated Bud Dupree's winning pick-six, you may have celebrated seeing all of the Wildcat fans storm the field. And yes, you may have heard Jojo Kemp's post game comments saying, "I came here to change this program around. Why not here? Why not us? Why not Kentucky?"
It was an indicative question. A question that serves its purpose in defining the hearts and souls of these Kentucky players that have bought into Mark Stoops' regime and all of those that have supported it.
Kentucky is a basketball school. Kentucky is the premier basketball school. Maybe that's the reason you doubted the Wildcats. Or maybe you doubted the fan support, maybe you thought their stadium was outdated and their jerseys were too mundane. There were many reasons Kentucky could be doubted, but the key word in that sentence was "were," because Kentucky and Mark Stoops truly have changed the game, and responses to those doubts are exactly why.
DT Matt Elam said he looked at Stoops on the field at the end. "Coach, we're really changing the game."— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_CJ) October 5, 2014
Saturday night, with "the Old Ball Coach" and the South Carolina Gamecocks in Lexington, Kentucky knew they had an opportunity primed for the taking. The Wildcats knew they'd fill Commonwealth Stadium -- the aged stadium that seats 61,000 fans -- and they knew the fans would be eagerly awaiting a chance for their team to move to 4-1 for the twelfth time since 1950.
As the players sprang from the locker room and onto the field in their slick, black uniforms, you could just sense the direction this program was heading -- up.
And with the Wildcats running the "wildcat" with running back Jojo Kemp, they stormed back after trailing 38-24 in the 4th quarter, and were able to garner the 45-38 win.
"It feels good," Stoops said. "It’s hard to describe how much pride you feel for the team, just for everybody in our organization."
But it wasn't solely Stoops that rejoiced. So did Kemp, fans, and administrators across the board, knowing this is certainly a program-changer.
So, with the jerseys, with the performance, and with the fans' energy Saturday night, why not Kentucky? By next season, the university will have completed a $110 million stadium renovation and will have turned in a roster of arguably the greatest assembled allotment of recruits in the Wildcats' history. Yes, even recruiting received a nice, additional boost tonight. 2015's No. 1 running back, Damien Harris, was in attendance. His comments on Twitter after the game?
Hence the answer to Jojo Kemp's question: "Why not Kentucky?" The excitement around this program is fun, it's refreshing, and although we've only seen four wins, the trajectory for Kentucky can only steepen. This team is built on defense and it's opened up with the offense -- a formula for success.
Continue to doubt them. The jerseys, check. The stadium, check. The fans, check. The scheme, check. The next box is SEC contender, the only box waiting to be checked.