Kentucky came into Saturday night with the chance to do something we haven’t seen in 41 years, and that is start 2-0 in the SEC while improving to 4-0 on the year.
Out of the gate, one thing was certain. Kentucky was going to be able to run the ball and luckily, we have Benny Snell to do just that. A year ago, Snell rushed 7 times for 18 yards against the Bulldogs and through the first half he had 11 carries for 60 yards and a TD.
Most of the half was a defensive battle. However, Kentucky had two big chances to get points on the board that were taken away by penalties and one drive ended in a missed field goal attempt to keep the game locked 0-0.
Kentucky’s defense has held Mississippi State’s offense in check until around 9 minutes left in the half when Nick Fitzgerald led a 15-play 80-yard TD drive to give the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead over the Cats.
After each team traded punts twice, Kentucky took the field with just over 2 minutes until halftime. Terry Wilson hit Dorian Baker for a 23-yard completion to put the Cats at the 2-yard line. Benny Snell then punched it in for the TD with 50 seconds left in the half to make it 7-7.
Mississippi State tried to get into field goal range before time ran out, but Boogie Watson rocked Fitzgerald on the last play of the half for a 7-yard sack and sent the game into halftime tied 7-7.
After the break, Kentucky came out and took over the game. The defense forced the Bulldogs to punt and Kentucky drove the ball 92 yards in 11 plays, and Snell ran in for another TD to make it 14-7 Cats.
After a Kentucky turnover, the defense remained hot and kept giving the Bulldogs fits, and with 8:09 left in the game, Tyrell Ajian came up with the interception. On the first play after the pick, Snell took it 36 yards for his third TD, putting the Cats up 21-7.
With the game in hand, Kentucky stopped the Bulldogs on 4th down, and once again fed Snell, who took it 23 yards for his fourth TD of the game and the Cats go on to win it 28-7.
Thoughts on the game
Dorian Baker finally made a big play
Entering Week 4, it had been a rough start for Dorian Baker in his final college season. Baker suffered a season-ending ankle injury in fall camp last year, but the hope is he would come back strong and lead this year’s Kentucky receiving corps. That hasn’t happened, as Baker has struggled mightily just to catch a ball.
He’s also narrowly missed on several deep hookups with Terry Wilson thus far, and the two missed on one early against the Bulldogs. But the two hooked up for a big gain down to the 2-yard line late in the first half with Kentucky down 7-0. After that catch, Kentucky went on a 28-0 run. It’s great to see Baker finally making a big play.
Benny Snell is a beast
We already knew this though. However, teams will not stop running their mouths and every week Benny shuts them up. In this one he ran 25 times for 165 yards and 4 TDs. The Bulldogs’ defense had no answer for Snell and the Kentucky running game. I don’t know what more people need to see before they give Benny the respect he deserves. He just torched a defense with two potential first-round picks in the 2019 NFL Draft.
Kentucky’s defense is legit
Before the season, we talked a lot about how good the defense could be with all the NFL caliber players we had returning.
Well, they are living up to the hype.
All night long the defense frustrated the offense of Mississippi State and they did a great job of getting pressure on Nick Fitzgerald. Also, we know how good Fitzgerald is at running the ball and the linebackers did an excellent job of containing him as they held him to just 20 yards on the ground.
Josh Allen is scary
We all know just how good Josh Allen is and so do the players on the opposing offensive line. All night, Allen had the Bulldogs linemen committing false starts putting them in a hole because they had to respect the threat he is off the edge. He constantly forced Fitzgerald into tough situations and had them off balance all night.
Terry Wilson managed the game
With the weather as poor as it was, it was going to be a hard game to throw the ball. However, Wilson did a good job of managing the game and avoiding big mistakes. He did have the one INT, but he made some huge plays with his feet to pick up first downs in big situations that kept the offense on the field to score points.
Next week, Kentucky will host South Carolina. Kentucky is looking to win its 5th in a row over USC. This week South Carolina dominated Vanderbilt as they won 37-14. Kentucky needs to celebrate tonight but go back to work because USC is a good team coming in next week.
Now, here are the postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:
Team Records and Series Information
- Kentucky is 4-0, 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference. Mississippi State is 3-1, 0-1 in the SEC.
- The all-time series between Kentucky and Mississippi State is now tied, 23-23. Kentucky has won one in a row.
- Next for the Wildcats: on Sept. 29, UK plays host to South Carolina. Game time is at 7:30 p.m. and it will be televised on the SEC Network.
- Kentucky is 4-0 for the first time since 2008.
- UK is 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1977.
- After winning at then-No. 25 Florida two weeks ago, this is the first time UK has won back-to-back games against ranked opponents since 1977.First win over a Top-15 team since No. 11 Louisville in the 2016 regular-season finale.
- First home win over a Top-15 team since No. 1 LSU in 2007.
- First home win over a ranked team since 2015 vs. Missouri.
- First win over a ranked Mississippi State team since 1953.
- Largest margin of victory (21 points) over a ranked opponent since a 21-0 win over Ole Miss in 1993.It is also the fewest points allowed vs. a ranked opponent since that Ole Miss game.
- It is the fewest yards allowed vs. a ranked opponent since Ole Miss also got 201 yards in that 1993 game.
- Largest margin of victory against a Top-15 ranked opponent since a 34-7 win over No. 14 Tulane in 1973.
- UK is 12-4 in its last 16 home games. It is the best stretch since 2006-08.
- UK is 13-5 in its last 18 regular season games. That’s the best 18-game regular-season stretch since Nov. 20, 1976, to Oct. 21, 1978 (13-4-1).
- UK is 21-5 in September over the last five seasons.
- UK has allowed zero points in the third quarter this season, first time to do that in the first four games since at least 1980.
- Mississippi State entered the game averaging 311.7 rushing yards per game but the Kentucky defense limited the Bulldogs to just 56 rushing yards on 28 carries for a 2.0 yards per carry average.
- 56 rushing yards is the fewest vs. a ranked opponent since holding Louisville to 55 rushing yards in 2002.
- The Bulldogs threw for 145 yards, which is the fewest passing yards in a game for MSU this season.
- MSU entered the game averaging 587.7 yards of total offense per game, but the Wildcats held them to just 201 yards of total offense on Saturday, including only 53 in the decisive second half.
- UK limited MSU to seven points and 201 total yards, the best defensive showing against an SEC team since holding Vanderbilt to seven points and 139 yards in a 17-7 win in 2014.
- This was the fewest points allowed vs. Mississippi State since a 13-7 win in 2005.
- UK allowed 11 first downs, fewest since Vanderbilt had eight in 2014.That was the fewest first downs vs. a ranked opponent since allowing 11 vs. Georgia in 1997.
- UK’s game captains were TE C.J. Conrad, S Mike Edwards, OT George Asafo-Adjei and LB Josh Allen.
- Sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson completed eight passes of 14 passes for 71 yards. He added a net 18 rushing yards.He became the first UK quarterback to win his first four career starts since Mike Hartline in 2008.
- Junior running back Benny Snell Jr. rushed 25 times for 165 yards and four touchdowns, tying the school record for touchdowns in a game. Snell is the first player in program history to have four touchdowns in a game twice in a career.He also set the UK career touchdown record with 39 TDs. The previous mark was 37 by Randall Cobb.
- It was the 15th 100-yard game of his career, second in school history.He has had at least 100 yards in each of the past five SEC home games.
- Has 2,964 career rushing yards, ranking fourth on the UK career rushing list. He needs 32 yards to tie Rafael Little for third place. He needs 872 yards to break the school record.
- 165 rushing yards ties the school record for most against a ranked SEC opponent, also Dicky Lyons Sr. 165 rushing yards vs. Tennessee in 1967.
- His 165 rushing yards tonight is most vs. Mississippi State since Derick Logan had 186 in 1996.
- Snell has 17 touchdowns in the last seven home games.
- Sophomore wide receiver Lynn Bowden led Kentucky with three receptions for 15 yards.
- Sophomore running back A.J. Rose rushed nine times for 47 yards.For the season, Rose has rushed 26 times for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
- Senior linebacker Josh Allen totaled six tackles, two tackles for loss, a quarterback sack, a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.He now has 17.5 career quarterback sacks, tying Jeremy Jarmon for fourth on the UK career list.
- Redshirt freshman safety Tyrell Ajian had his first career interception in the fourth quarter, returning it 35 yards. It set up Snell’s 36-yard touchdown run on the next play.
- Senior safety Darius West led Kentucky with nine tackles, adding two pass breakups.
- Senior linebacker Jordan Jones had eight tackles in the game, including one quarterback hurry.
- Junior linebacker Kash Daniel had seven tackles and one quarterback hurry in the game.
- Sophomore linebacker Jamar “Boogie” Watson had four tackles in the game, including a sack.
Enjoy this win and Go Cats!