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Postgame notes and milestones from Kentucky Wildcats’ regular-season finale

The Cardinals fly past Mark Stoops' "Wild" Cats and make a nest in Kroger Field.

Louisville v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats and Louisville Cardinals met at Kroger Field Saturday afternoon for what was expected to be 60 minutes of competitive football for the Governor's Cup. From the opening drive until the clock hit zero, however, the Cardinals owned the Wildcats in all three phases of the game.

After leading 31-10 at halftime, Louisville cruised by Kentucky, 13-7, in the second half to win 44 - 17. Kentucky's 27-point defeat was their third worst ever to Louisville and their second worst at home.

In quarterback Stephen Johnson's last game as a Wildcat, his first half could not have been any worse. Johnson failed to complete a pass in the first quarter and went just 5-12 for 70 yards with a passer rating of 90.7 in the first half. Two of those 12 passes should have been intercepted as well.

Johnson went on to be just as terrible in the second half, completing just 3 of 7 passes for 40 yards and taking a back-breaking 17-yard sack on 4th & 3 in the red zone.

Benny Snell was the only productive Wildcat in the first half, rushing for 118 yards on just 16 carries and punching in Kentucky's lone touchdown. In the second half he was mostly neutralized, as Kentucky was down three scores and forced to throw the ball (or lack there of).

However, late in the fourth quarter, Snell unleashed one final drive of his inner-beast mode to avoid his Cats being shut out in the second half. Snell finished the game with 29 carries for 211 yards and 2 TDs. His second TD broke the school record for most TDs in the regular season (previously 17, now 18).

Kentucky had issues at QB and at every defensive position, but that shouldn't be the main focus today. Head coach Mark Stoops (former defensive backs coach) doesn't belong in the SEC.

Stoops's defense has given up 13 (S Carolina) 28 (Florida), 34 (Mizzou), 45 (Miss St), 26 (Tenn), 37 (Ole Miss), 21 (Vandy) and 42 (Georgia) points this season to SEC opponents. That's an average of 30.75 PPG and doesn't include the 44 allowed (at home) to Louisville Saturday afternoon.

Not only have points been, and were Saturday, an issue for Kentucky, but so has Stoops' control over the team. The Kentucky defense alone was called for five personal foul and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against the Cardinals.

After a skirmish in the first quarter between Jordan Jones & Lamar Jackson, the team only became more unraveled as the deficit became larger.

Eddie Gran deserves much blame as well, as the Cats' offense was held to seven points in the second half. Play-calling has been questionable all season but scoring just seven more points than Murray State vs. this Cardinals defense is a cause for a decent sized headache.

It's hard to imagine this Kentucky team (losers of three of their last four) will be playing in a bowl game next month. They'll likely be shot down but there's no doubt questions should be asked about both Gran & Stoops's futures with the program.

Both have clearly lost (or possibly never had) control of both sides of the ball, as they've been outscored 64-107 in the fourth quarter this season. Two of their five losses came by fourth quarter debacles and the other three, all against the best competition of their schedule, came via blowout (38, 29 & 27 points).

Series Notes

  • Kentucky ends the regular season 7-5 overall, 4-4 in the Southeastern Conference.
  • Louisville finishes the regular season 8-4 overall, 4-4 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
  • The all-time series in games played between the two team is tied 15-15 with Louisville winning six of the last seven games.
  • Louisville leads the all-time series 10-8 in games played in Lexington.
  • The road team in the series is 15-9 since 1994.
  • University of Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson has been named the 2017 Howard Schnellenberger Most Valuable Player of the Kentucky-Louisville football game.

Player Notes

  • UK’s game captains were WR Charles Walker, QB Stephen Johnson, LB Courtney Love and WR Garrett “Juice” Johnson.
  • Sophomore running back Benny Snell ran for a career-high 211 yards on 29 carries.
  • Broke the school record for the most rushing touchdowns in a single season with 18. Moe Williams also had 17 in 1995.
  • Snell now has 110 points scored this season, which is the most points scored in a single season in school history. The previous was 104 by Austin MacGinnis in 2014.
  • Snell is the first UK player to reach 30 career rushing touchdowns.
  • Snell’s rushing total was the most ever for a UK player against Louisville. The previous record was 151 by Rafael Little in 2007.
  • Snell now has 262 career rushing yards in his career against Louisville. That is the most by a UK player in their career against Louisville.
  • Snell is the fifth player in SEC history with at least 18 rushing touchdowns during their sophomore season.
  • Snell is the fourth player in SEC history to reach 31 career rushing touchdowns prior to their junior season.
  • Snell is the fifth player in SEC history to reach 2,400 career rushing yards prior to their junior season.
  • Snell now has 1,318 rushing yards this season, which sets the school record for most rushing yards in a season by a sophomore. It is the third most in a single season in program history (Artose Pinner had 1,414 in 2002).
  • The previous record was 1,213 yards by Sonny Collins in 1973.
  • Snell is the third UK player since 1985 with a rushing touchdown in five consecutive games.
  • In the last five games, Snell has 777 rushing yards and 12 rushing touchdowns.
  • Snell is the sixth different player in school history with 200 rushing yards in a game.
  • He is the first UK player since Artose Pinner in 2002 vs. Vanderbilt to accomplish the feat. He rushed for 224 yards in that game.
  • Senior wide receiver Garrett “Juice” Johnson did not catch a pass in the game, snapping a streak of 22 consecutive games with a pass caught.
  • Senior linebacker Courtney Love tied a career high with 10 tackles
  • Senior kicker Austin MacGinnis 1-for-2 in the game.
  • MacGinnis’ 21 field goals this season ties his previous school record for most field goals in a season.