Louisville quarterback Hunter Cantwell was supposed to have given the Cardinals an edge going into the game because he had started four games and played more extensively the past two years than Hartline. Instead, UK's defense harassed Cantwell into three interceptions and limited him to 152 yards on 43 attempts.
"I did hear some of that stuff about Louisville having an edge at quarterback. Heck, every team in the SEC is supposed to have an edge over me," Hartline said. "But it is a lot easier to play quarterback when you have a defense like we have. You can throw the ball away and play field position when you have a defense that stops people the way our defense does."
Hartline had his own cheering section at the game. Not only did his parents make the trip from Canton, Ohio, but so did his brother, Ohio State receiver Brian Hartline. His brother's fiancee was also there along with an aunt, one cousin, his grandfather and his grandfather's friend.
"My brother was really happy for me, but he was wanting some big-time numbers," Hartline laughed and said. "Now he wants to talk football. He saw something he wants to tell me. I am glad he got to come, though. I will go to his game with Michigan, but it is nice to have him here."
Kentucky coach Rich Brooks was glad to have Hartline on his side.
"He managed the game, which is what we wanted him to do," Brooks said. "He avoided those critical errors that can get you beat in a game like this."
Kentucky had only 210 total yards, including only 63 rushing. Brooks knows those numbers must improve.
"We are waiting on our offense to mature," Brooks said. "We can't wait much longer. We have to give Mike some help. Our offensive line has to play better. We dropped some balls. Our backs didn't always run like they can. But I can't fault Mike."
Neither could senior receiver Dicky Lyons, who had two catches for 25 yards.
"With this being his first game, we didn't want to spread too much out and put too much on him," Lyons said. "But he's got composure. He was not flustered at all. If something bad happened, he just went back to the game plan. He made the right checks and did a great job."
Hartline appreciated the praise, but he was a little more realistic about his play.
"I could have thrown the ball better. Overall, I'm happy, but I could have done a lot better," he said. "I didn't pressure myself and if I had questions, I just asked the coaches.
"That pass to T.C. is one I really wanted back. I rushed it. That's going to happen. You have to move on when you make a mistake like that. You can't dwell on it. But I can't do it again."
However, freshman backup quarterback Randall Cobb, who also led UK in receiving with three catches for 31 yards, understood why Hartline deserved the high praise he got from the UK coaches.
"Mike has poise. He got the job done and we won. That's what a quarterback does. He gets you a win and Mike did that. Nothing else really matters," Cobb said.