CHARLOTTE, N.C. (LEX 18) — Even though the Belk Bowl is not until Tuesday, True Blue fans took over Charlotte this weekend.
One of their first stops was a place to watch the basketball team, as the Wildcats battled Louisville in a thriller.
There are about 2,000 UK alumni in the Charlotte area, and every week, dozens of fans get together to watch UK games.
The UK Alumni Association held a watch party for the game, and even with the basketball game about to start, True Blue fans who traveled couldn't stop discussing football.
They kept talking about a player who's become a household name in the Bluegrass: Lynn Bowden
"My philosophy is we're all stars. But some stars shine brighter than others in different games," said Walter "Bucky" Taylor.
"But now I'm looking to next year. Who's going to replace him with that enthusiasm and that maturity to really rally the team and rally the fans, and make everyone stay positive? That's not an easy job to do, and it takes a very mature person to be able to do that. I think it's wonderful that he (Bowden) has done that," said Allie Lemons, the co-president of UK Alumni Association.
While True Blue fans looked for a place to watch the big basketball game, the football team had some fun on the track on Saturday. The boys in blue took an adventure to the Charlotte Motor Speedway, and each of the guys had three laps moving at over 150 mph.
Later in the day, as part of the Belk Bowl experience, the players went on a shopping spree. They were each given a $440 gift card to buy whatever they wanted at Belk.
Sweats were big, and so were undergarments. But quite a few of the guys said they were shopping for their families, like Brendan Bates who was trying to find his mom a purse.
"I'm gonna by my sister a Christmas present. Can't tell you what it is because I want it to be a surprise," said punter Max Duffy.
"Since Christmas just passed, I'm about to get my family some gifts my mom and dad, my sister," said running back Tyler Markray.
On Sunday morning, players took time to help at a local food bank. While at Second Harvest Food Bank, the players put together about 1,500 backpacks for elementary school students in the Charlotte area.
After a busy day around Charlotte and the practice field, the team also took in more of the racing experience. They spent Sunday night at the NASCAR Hall of Fame, which is in Charlotte.
The stadium where they will be playing on Tuesday, Bank of America Stadium, is also home to the Carolina Panthers.
On Sunday, the Panthers wrapped up their season against the playoff-bound New Orleans Saints inside that very stadium. LEX 18 caught up with some True Blue fans before kickoff.
"My husband is a fan. I'm a fan, and my son is a fan of the Bengals. So I try to play both sides of the road keep everybody happy," said Shay Johnston, a True Blue fan from Nicholasville.
"I've heard it's a pretty cool place to go. It will be cool to see what it's like for an NFL game, and then to see what it's like for our game on Tuesday," said Ian Dukehart, a UK football intern.
The Wildcats and Virginia Tech Hokies play in the Belk Bowl on Tuesday. The New Year's Eve battle starts at noon, and will air on ESPN.
LEX 18 will have coverage from Charlotte throughout the day on Monday and Tuesday. There will be an hour-long special from 7:00-8:00 p.m. on both nights.
If you want to track the Cats and True Blue fans in Charlotte, give our LEX 18 team a follow: