Bowden earned legendary status at Kentucky


Lynn Bowden Jr. is the guy that you just had to have on your sandlot team. He was everybody’s first pick because, if you had Lynn Bowden, you had it made.

He could make something out of nothing.

He could make you miss.

He could move those hips better than Elvis.

Most of all, you wanted Lynn Bowden because you were going to win. He was the Bo Jackson of Tecmo Bowl or the Lamar Jackson of Louisville and now the Baltimore Ravens. Just give him the ball and watch him work.

And he made it long so doggone easy, leaving embarrassed defenders wondering which way he went. You almost felt a little sorry for overmatched Louisville. Almost. It was like Bowden didn’t know he was playing in a downpour on Saturday. His cleats were probably not even wet because it seemed like his feet never touched the ground.

There were a lot of grab and misses from Louisville. Vanderbilt, UT-Martin, Tennessee, Missouri and Georgia could commiserate.

Kentucky is glad it had the first pick. “Uh, we’ll take Lynn Bowden.”

Game over.

They will be talking about Lynn Bowden's magical season for years to come. You might as well save some space in the stadium to honor him.

Bowden put an exclamation point on a season that cemented his status in the all-time great category for Kentucky. The wide receiver-turned-quarterback scored four touchdowns, rushed for 284 yards and the Wildcats routed rival Louisville, 45-13, at Kroger Field.

In a game that was expected to be decided at the finish line, Bowden left the Cardinals in the starting block.

Even when Louisville put nine players in the box, it couldn’t stop Kentucky’s running game that piled up 517 yards. Passing yards? Uh, four. When the football is pitched to one of Kentucky’s wrecking ball out of a backfield, let’s just count that a pass.

When Lynn Bowden kept it, most of the time you could call it a touchdown. He was 1 of 2 throwing for four yards. Hey, you have to keep them honest.

When Kentucky’s season was teetering on the brink of disaster, this high school quarterback from Ohio with running instincts like Walter Payton stepped into the shot gun and took off like a howitzer. His numbers boggle the mind and have left countless defensive coordinators in his wake. He has been, in a word, unstoppable. I mean, really, how do you prepare for that guy? There’s no way to have a scout quarterback imitate what he can do.

Bowden finished with 1,236 yards rushing and Kentucky’s team gained more than any other on the ground. He had some backbreaking runs and turned many a busted play into chunk yardages. About all that kept him from perfection was a near miss against Tennessee and we’d all like to have a couple of those plays again.

Without moving Lynn Bowden to quarterback – even though it seemed at the time a bit of a Hail Mary - this Kentucky season was off the rails and headed for 4-8 or worse. It was a season on the brink that turned into the Season of Bowden.

With him at quarterback they have become one of the most exciting 60 minutes in college football today and I’d say any of the representatives from Kentucky’s eligible bowls will be trying to make Bowden their first pick real soon.

MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at


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