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Wildcats Can Learn Something From The ’96 Tigers

Posted by Ryne E. Hancock on September 15, 2007

Almost 12 years ago this November, the University of Memphis pulled off what many considered the biggest win in their football history by beating a Tennessee team that was laden with future NFL stars such as a guy by the name of Peyton Manning at quarterback, Joey Kent at wide receiver, and Al Wilson as the anchor of one of the country’s best defenses.

This coming after coming up short 15 times in the previous meetings between the two schools on the gridiron and having a quarterback that wasn’t on the dream list of any NFL scout and a program that, for so many years, had to take a backseat to the basketball program and struggle for fans in a city that was, and is still to this day, filled with a plethora of SEC alums that could root for highly successful football programs like Arkansas and Tennessee.

For once, the Tigers proved that they could be more than a schedule-feeder for an Alabama, Louisiana State, and a Tennessee and even years later, many people consider that game as a turning point in the program’s long-suffering history, long before a guy named DeAngelo came to the Highland Strip.

On Saturday night, in front of what could be the largest crowd in the history of Commonwealth Stadium, the Kentucky Wildcats could have a chance to do the same thing, that 12 years ago was done to Peyton Manning when the Memphis Tigers beat them, to Louisville quarterback Brian Brohm: end his Heisman campaign and the Cardinals’ national championship hopes.

Unlike what the Tigers had in 1996 when they faced the Volunteers, Kentucky has NFL-cailber talent at the skilled positions, especially at quarterback with Andre Woodson, who has a streak of 213 completions without an interception.

The Memphis Tigers of 1996?

Two, one of them being defensive back Mike McKensie, who is, as we speak, in his eighth season in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints and is still to this day a presence in the Memphis community with a charitable foundation that steers towards the inner-city communities in this city.

And like the Tigers since their win over the Vols in 1996, Kentucky’s football program has upgraded their football facilities to be on par with their neighbors further down Interstate 64, which moved out of their old antiquated stadium on the grounds of the Kentucky State Fairgrounds to a brand-new on-campus stadium as well as a BCS conference.

But unlike Louisville, those upgrades haven’t transcended the Wildcats into a force to be reckoned with in the SEC nor home victories over the Cardinals.

As columnist Eric Crawford said this morning, those brand new seats that were placed there in 1999 have yet to see a victory over Louisville.

Come Saturday, those new seats might be witnesses to history.

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