Rejoice, Kentucky fans. The Cats have won their third straight SEC game for the first time since 1999. Kentucky is now one win away from bowl eligibility, which will be their first bowl since 2010. Kentucky has also now guaranteed a .500 record in the SEC with their fourth win in the conference. The running game was historically dominant, and the defense was able to frustrate the Missouri offense for most of the game. The Cats allowed some big plays late and made it a little closer than it should have been. However, they got a much-needed win. Here are some takeaways from the victory.
Benny Snell Jr is on track to be a Kentucky legend
You’d never believe Snell is a true freshman. He put up another astounding performance, running 38 times for 192 yards, and average of 5.1 yards-per-carry. This is by far his best performance from a yardage standpoint, and his workload was much heavier than it’s been in any other game this year. On top of the rushing yards, Snell also broke Randall Cobb’s freshman touchdown record here.
They ran Snell out of the Wildcat formation frequently this week, and it’s becoming more and more apparent that the Wildcat will be a staple of Kentucky’s offense for the rest of the year.
After not playing the first two games, Snell has put up 661 yards this season. He’s right at the heels of Boom Williams, so we should see a nice little battle to determine who leads the team in rushing yards by the end of the year. Speaking of Williams, he had quite the game as well.
Together, the two had a historic day.
Turnovers are still a problem
I feel like a broken record when putting the turnover problems in the takeaways, but they’re still an issue. If Kentucky truly wants to threaten for the SEC East crown, they have to be as close to turnover-free as possible against Georgia and Tennessee. Williams’ fumble and Stephen Johnson’s interception are cause for concern, as Kentucky should’ve won this game by a lot more than they did thanks to those two turnovers. Tennessee and Georgia will make them pay for costly mistakes like that.
The defense didn’t give up points off turnovers
Luckily for the offense, the defense didn’t give Missouri a chance to make this game even closer. The defense kept the Mizzou offense stagnant despite Kentucky’s turnovers. They did give up some big plays late, allowing 14 points in just 11 seconds of Missouri possession time, but luckily it was in garbage time. Georgia, Tennessee and Louisville will be much better at making the Cats pay for turnovers, though, so hopefully the offense can play smarter and keep from relying on the defense to hold the opposition.
Kentucky didn’t play to the level of their competition
Kentucky has had a bad habit of being just as good as their opponent. All three of Kentucky’s last three wins have been by one possession. While they made it a bit closer than they should have today, they won a game by double digits for the first time Week 3. Kentucky’s in good shape for a bowl, but if they want to win the SEC East they have to play above their competition.
Kentucky is as close to a bowl game as they’ve been since 2010
The Cats need one win, and they’ve still got Georgia and Austin Peay on the schedule. Austin Peay is currently 0-7 in I-AA play, so anything short of a 6-6 record would be a catastrophe at this point. After a disastrous start to the season, the Cats should expect nothing less than a bowl game, especially since they’ve somehow worked their way into the SEC East conversation.