4:55:12 UKvsUTMartinFB2019

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. (1) and Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Bryce Oliver (85) celebrate after a UK touchdown during the University of Kentucky vs. UT Martin football game on Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 50-7. Photo by Michael Clubb | Staff

1. Cats become bowl eligible

With their 50-7 rout over UT-Martin, Mark Stoops and his Kentucky Wildcats (6-5, 3-5 SEC) have become bowl eligible for the fourth consecutive season.

Stoops’ 2019 team was handed some unfortunate circumstances, but he said it’s still hard to say where this team ranks among others when he’s reached a bowl game.   

“It’s hard to compare them because they’re all different and unique and they’re all special in their own ways, that’s for sure,” Stoops said after the win. “I have great appreciation for all of our ex-players, in particular the guys that were here early on when I was here and went through some very tough times. But they laid the foundation for us.”

After grabbing their fifth win of the season last week against Vanderbilt, the Cats had two more chances to become bowl eligible. They have one more game left on the schedule, a home matchup against Louisville, where they’ll look to notch their seventh win of 2019 before preparing for whatever bowl they’re given. 

“But with this group, definitely very special, because they really did hit some adversity and really looked it right in the eye and moved on,” Stoops said. “And they’ve been really a lot of fun to coach. Through the tough times, through the adversity, it created some identity to this team.” 

2. UK offense breaks program single-game rushing record

After a 45-yard carry for a touchdown by redshirt freshman Tyler Markray, the Wildcats reached a whopping 462 rushing yards, breaking the school record for rushing yards in a single game. The previous record was 446 yards set against Tennessee Tech on Sept. 15, 1951. 

Quarterbacks Lynn Bowden, Sawyer Smith and Walker Wood all had at least 10 yards on the ground, while the Cats used five running backs, who had at least 40 yards each.

Also breaking records was junior quarterback Bowden, who recorded 129 yards on the ground in Kentucky’s win. That marks his fifth-straight 100-yard rushing game, passing Mike Fanuzzi for the most 100-yard rushing games by a quarterback in school history. 

Bowden, Kentucky’s leading rusher of the day, also had two rushing touchdowns against the Skyhawks. He played his last snap in the third quarter before the coaching staff put Sawyer Smith in and eventually third-stringer Walker Wood. Stoops says it was a tall task pulling Bowden from the game for good because he wasn’t ready to head for the bench yet.

“I couldn’t get him out, with one more series,” Stoops said. “He wanted one more series, at least a few more snaps.” 

3. Max Duffy continues campaign for Ray Guy Award

A semifinalist for the Ray Guy Award for the nation’s top punter, Duffy came into Saturday’s matchup averaging a UK career record 46.2 yards per kick. Against the Skyhawks, he punted three times, his longest a 66-yarder. Not only that, but Duffy recorded his second tackle of the season on a UT-Martin punt return. 

“Doesn't surprise me that he made the tackle,” Stoops said with a smile. “I'm sure he's been waiting for that opportunity. So just knowing him. But he's been a big role. It's always so important. Field position, it's really big to us and to most people.”

The Cats kick off next Saturday in their last game of the regular season at noon against Louisville at Kroger Field.