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Alabama vs Kentucky: A Historical Retrospective

Since Alabama and Kentucky first met on the gridiron 92 years ago, the Wildcats have garnered a victory on just two occasions; in 1922 and in 1997 (the two teams battled to a 7-7 tie in 1939). While Kentucky football has a lengthy history it has never been known for being a powerhouse and the contests with Bama bears that out. The Crimson Tide has rolled up 919 points over the entire history of the series to Kentucky's 256 - holding the Wildcats scoreless on no less than 16 occasions.

According to the Alabama Record Book, Kentucky was the foe for a pair of games that highlighted the prowess of two of the Crimson Tide's greatest players, Harry Gilmer and Derrick Thomas. In 1945 Gilmer gained 216 yards in six carries against the Wildcats in Louisville including touchdown runs of 59 and 95 yards. He also threw two passes for 50 yards in the 60-19 blowout.

It was quite a different story in 1988 when Alabama clawed back from a 17-point deficit to upend Kentucky in Lexington (see video above). The game was clenched for the Tide with a desperate TD pass thrown in the final ten seconds but the Tide's turnaround was led by linebacker Derrick Thomas who played like a man possessed in the second half. By the time it was over he had amassed 14 tackles, four sacks (for -14 yards) not to mention blocking a punt and a field goal.

Perhaps the strongest tie between the two programs is Alabama's legendary coach Paul W. Bryant who was the HC for the Wildcats from 1946 to 1953. This was arguably the acme of the Kentucky program's prominence with the wildcats reaching four bowl games and winning the SEC Championship in 1950. During that span Coach Bryant faced off against his alma mater two times, in 1946 and 1947, but was unable to emerge victorious. The former contest is notable in that it was Bryant's only opportunity to coach against Frank Thomas, his head coach while he was a player at the Capstone.

Alabama vs Kentucky Historical Record

Season W/L Score Date Location Game Information
1917 W 27-0 Nov. 17 Lexington, KY
1922 L 0-6 Nov. 18 Lexington, KY
1923 W 16-8 Nov. 10 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1924 W 42-7 Nov. 8 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1925 W 31-0 Nov. 7 Birmingham, Ala.
1926 W 14-0 Nov. 6 Birmingham, Ala.
1927 W 21-6 Nov. 5 Birmingham, Ala.
1928 W 14-0 Nov. 10 Montgomery, Ala.
1929 W 24-13 Nov. 9 Montgomery, Ala.
1930 W 19-0 Nov. 1 Lexington, KY
1931 W 9-7 Oct. 31 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1932 W 12-7 Oct. 29 Lexington, KY
1933 W 20-0 Nov. 4 Birmingham, Ala.
1934 W 34-14 Nov. 3 Lexington, KY
1935 W 13-0 Nov. 2 Birmingham, Ala.
1936 W 14-0 Oct. 31 Lexington, KY
1937 W 41-0 Oct. 30 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1938 W 26-6 Oct. 29 Lexington, KY Alabama's 250th win
1939 TIE 7-7 Nov. 4 Birmingham, Ala.
1940 W 25-0 Nov. 2 Lexington, KY
1941 W 30-0 Nov. 1 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1942 W 14-0 Oct. 24 Lexington, KY
1944 W 41-0 Oct. 27 Montgomery, Ala.
1945 W 60-19 Nov. 3 Louisville, KY
1946 W 21-7 Oct. 26 Montgomery, Ala.
1947 W 13-0 Nov. 1 Lexington, KY
1972 W 35-0 Sept. 23 Birmingham, Ala.
1973 W 28-14 Sept. 22 Lexington, KY
1980 W 45-0 Oct. 3 Birmingham, Ala.
1981 W 19-10 Sept. 19 Lexington, KY
1988 W 31-27 Oct. 1 Lexington, KY
1989 W 15-3 Sept. 23 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1996 W 35-7 Oct. 5 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
1997 L 34-40 Oct. 4 Lexington, KY OT
2003 W 27-17 Sept. 13 Tuscaloosa, Ala.
2004 W 45-17 Oct. 9 Lexington, KY
2008 W 17-14 Oct. 4 Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Source: The University of Alabama 2009 Football Media Guide


Alabama vs Kentucky: The Record Book

Record Place Year Statistic Holder
Highest Average Gain Per Rush (single game, min. 5 attempts) 1st 1945 36 Harry Gilmer
Most Yds per Play (total offense, single game, min. 8 plays) 1st 1945 33.3 Harry Gilmer
Most Blocked Kicks (single game) 1st (tied) 1988 2 Derrick Thomas
Longest Kickoff Returns 1st (tied) 1973 100 yards Willie Shelby
Most Sacks & Tackles for Losses (single game) 2nd 1988 6 (4 sacks, 2TBL) Derrick Thomas
Most QB Hurries (single game) 2nd 1988 6 Derrick Thomas
Longest Touchdown  Rushes  2nd 1945 95 yards Harry Gilmer
Most Sacks (single game) 2nd (tied) 1988 4 (-14 yards) Derrick Thomas
Longest Punts 3rd 1933 83 yards Dixie Howell
Most Points (single game) 3rd (tied) 1996 24 Dennis Riddle
Most Touchdowns (total offense, single game) 4th (tied) 1996 4 (3 rush, 1 pass) Dennis Riddle
Most Yds. Rushing (single game) 7th 1945 216 (6 atts) Harry Gilmer
Longest Interception Returns 10th 1940 76 yards Don Salls
Most Punts Returned (single game) 10th (tied) 1946 10 team record

Source: The University of Alabama Football Record Book

Note: While we are relying on the record book created by the UA athletic department for these entries, the publicly available edition is only complete up through 2006. We welcome any information concerning records which may have been surpassed since that time.