Out-of-state seniors welcome last chance to win state rivalry

Eric Scott was a bug-eyed freshman when he first experienced the UK-University of Louisville rivalry in 2003.

Scott, who’s from Atlanta, Ga., knew little about the rivalry, and he wasn’t expecting the maelstrom that surrounded him.

“I didn’t understand the rivalry and what was going on,” Scott said. “It rained that game, and everybody was going crazy. I didn’t really know much about Louisville at all, but when I came here I had the opportunity to realize how serious the rivalry was.”

Scott is one of eight UK seniors who hail from outside of the Bluegrass. Though they didn’t grow up around here, all eight have a firm grasp on what the rivalry means to the fans and programs, Scott said.

“It’s just like high school,” Scott said. “You’ve got your rivals up the road, and those are the guys you play your games against. Those are the people you’ve got to see every day. Those are the types of losses that you just can’t have.”

UK’s 15 seniors are days away from their last chance at beating the Cards. Still, Scott said he doesn’t carry a personal vendetta against Louisville. Though he understands the rivalry, he’s focused on what a win over a top-10 team would mean to the progress of the program.

“If we beat Louisville, it’s going to mean a lot (to me),” Scott said. “But it’s going to mean more to the program and to us as a team. The win for this program is the most important thing.”

Senior safety Roger Williams, also from Georgia, agreed.

“It means a lot (to the program),” Williams said. “If we don’t win, the season won’t stop. But if we win, the face of UK will change. If we win this game, the whole nation will realize who UK is this year.”

That kind of opportunity is exactly why Williams chose to play at UK.

“That’s what I came here for,” Williams said. “It would have been easy to go to Georgia or Georgia Tech, to stay at home. But when you can come somewhere and be the reason why they’re on top, that means a lot more than going somewhere that’s already on top. We’re headed up, and that’s exactly what I wanted to come here to do.”

A win over U of L would give UK its first 3-0 start since 2002, and such a start would earn the Cats respect around the country, Scott said.

“Respect is something that’s earned, not given,” Scott said. “If we can knock the big dogs off, that’s what’s going to set us apart in the (Southeastern Conference). We can go out and say we competed against one of the top ten teams in the nation and beat that team.”

The Cats haven’t defeated U of L since a 22-17 win in 2002. That season, the Cards were ranked 17th and had won three consecutive games against UK. This time, the ninth-ranked Cardinals enter with a four-game winning streak in the series.

UK’s four-game losing streak doesn’t sit well with Williams, even if he had never heard of the trophy awarded to the winner of the game before coming to UK.

“They’ve had the bragging rights for the last four years, and it’s time to get the respect back,” Williams said. “It’s time to bring the Governor’s Cup back where it belongs.”