Upset should convert non-Believe-ers

In the first row of the second section, above the honored names of Jerry Claiborne and Bob Gain, seven students spelled B-E-L-I-E-V-E on their chests.

They weren’t the only ones who believed.

The rest of the 70,902 fans at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night believed. The players also believed. So did the coaches.

And they made a believer out of me. From kickoff to the play before Braxton Kelley’s bone-crushing, game-clinching tackle, I was a non-believer. There was no way UK could beat mighty Louisiana State, which boasts an endless amount of talent at running back and future NFL players at so many other positions.

Wrong. UK did just that, knocking off No. 1 LSU 43-37 in triple overtime in what will go down as one of the greatest games in the history of UK football.

“I can’t say enough about the guts and character of this football team,” head coach Rich Brooks said. “That was a heck of a football team we beat out there tonight.”

“We believe” has become the prevailing motto of the football team. It started with a music video that featured safety Marcus McClinton rapping and dancing. Senior wide receiver Keenan Burton, senior running back Rafael Little, senior linebacker Wesley Woodyard and junior linebacker Kelley also made cameos.

They claimed in the video that they could beat any team in the nation, including LSU.

But, for real, did you really believe the entire time?

Did you believe UK would win without Little, McClinton and linebacker Johnny Williams?

That’s three starters out against the top team in the nation. Did you really believe then?

And did you believe when LSU scored right before the half to take a 17-7 lead? Did you believe when LSU scored the first 10 points of the second half to lead 27-14 with just 3:39 left in the third quarter?

“We went out there and we believed in each other,” defensive lineman Jeremy Jarmon said. “Offensively, they went out there and they just knew they’d move the ball on them. Defensively, we knew we’d be able to get out there and disrupt some of the things they did.”

When the fans started chanting “We believe” at the start of overtime, did you still believe it? Doesn’t the “better” team always overcome and win in overtime?

After the teams traded touchdowns in the first overtime, did you really believe kicker Lones Seiber was going to stay hot — he hit his two previous field-goal attempts in the fourth quarter — and nail that 43-yard field goal to send the game into a third overtime?


“Everybody believes in the program and in the scheme and what we have to do,” McClinton said. “Even the fans believe. Nobody left the stadium, and they’re chanting ‘We believe’. They helped us win this game.”

It’s amazing how quickly things have changed for UK. Last week, the Cats were undefeated, in the drivers’ seat in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division race, and were ranked No. 8 in both national polls.

Then they lost to South Carolina, fell back in the conference and national picture, and had a realistic chance, with No. 1 LSU and No. 13 Florida coming to Lexington in back-to-back weeks, to be 5-3 after such a promising start.

The Cats are 6-1 now, which makes them bowl eligible after just seven games, and they’ll likely be back in the top 10 this week when Florida comes to Lexington. On Saturday, ESPN’s “College Gameday” will make its first-ever trip to the Bluegrass state for a football game.

That’s all gravy to the Cats. They don’t really care about that. They just care about the conference race.

“Among our team we really don’t care about how the nation perceives us,” Jarmon said. “We got out there and play hard. We believe in ourselves.”

The post-game celebration ended fittingly, with McClinton and company’s video. Next time you need some inspiration, turn Journey’s version of “Believe” off and blast McClinton’s.

The five players on that video believed when no one else did. So did the fans. So did the coaches.

I didn’t. But I do now.

Jonathan Smith is a journalism senior. E-mail [email protected]