The 17th-ranked Kentucky Wildcats came into the weekend sitting at 4-0 (2-0 SEC) looking to extend the winning streak over South Carolina to five straight games.
And that is exactly what they did.
Out of the gate, Kentucky looked a little sluggish, but it didn’t take long for that to change. With each team exchanging field goals, Kentucky went on an 11 play 75-yard TD drive capped off by Terry Wilson running it in for the 1-yard score making it 10-3 Cats.
Kentucky forced the Gamecocks to punt and in quick fashion, took it 80 yards in 7 plays as AJ Rose took it in for the 24-yard TD run to push the Cats lead to 17-3.
Kentucky’s defense caught a break after a receiver was wide open down the field but couldn’t make the catch. Two plays later, Jake Bentley tried to hit a receiver down field but Derrick Baity Jr. was able to get the interception giving the ball back to the Cats.
Kentucky took advantage of the INT and drove right down the field and Benny Snell took it in from 4 yards out for his 40th career TD and extending the lead to 24-3.
South Carolina drove down to field goal range but on the attempt, it was pushed left and kept the score 24-3 going into the half. On both of South Carolina’s field goal attempts, Kentucky was just inches away from getting the block.
Kentucky didn’t come out of halftime with the same energy that they had in the first half, and it felt as if they were starting to look ahead to the trip to Texas A&M.
South Carolina put up an early TD on the Cats after Lonnie Johnson tried to jump the route and allowed Deebo Samuel to take it in to cut the lead to 24-10.
That marked the end of the scoring in this one as Kentucky went 3 and out on three of their four possessions. However, the defense continued to do what it has done all season and shut the South Carolina offense down the rest of the way as the Cats come away with a 24-10 victory.
Thoughts on the game
Josh Allen was unstoppable
We all know how good Josh Allen is, but he continues to impress and dominate against SEC opponents. In this one, Allen had 8 tackles, 4 tackles for loss, 3 sacks and he forced a fumble.
Allen is a scary sight for opposing offensive lines and he must give opposing QBs nightmares. The way he plays is going to win this team a lot of games and make an NFL team very happy in the future.
It’s amazing to watch Allen, one of the greatest defensive players in school history, play alongside Benny Snell, one of the great offensive players in Kentucky history.
The offense was good and bad in this one
In the first half, Kentucky dominated the line and were able to run the ball at will and South Carolina had no answer for it. However, in the second half the offense couldn’t move the ball and failed to make holes for Benny and others to run through.
After the way the first four games went, the second half was shocking at how the line struggled but I believe they will get refocused and be ready to go again next week.
The defense is a dominant group
I already gave Josh Allen the praise he deserves but the entire defense showed up in a big way tonight and has been dominant all season. Towards the end of the game, South Carolina had a 20-play drive that ended with an INT. It’s impressive to hold a team to no points on a drive that lasts that long.
The defense forced 4 takeaways total. Interceptions by Darius West, Mike Edwards and Derrick Baity Jr. Jordan Jones forced and recovered a fumble and the defense forced a total of three fumbles for the game.
The kicking game is worrisome
For the last few years we have been spoiled by having Austin MacGinnis and knowing that if a drive stalls out we can just send him out there and it is going to be three points.
That is not the case this season. Miles Butler is good with the close chip shots but when it comes to the 40-yard range he is a big question mark.
As we know, MacGinnis won us plenty of games in his time at UK including two game winning kicks against Mississippi State and Louisville. The problem is if we get in that situation, Butler doesn’t have the leg for it and we would be relying on the big but unproven boot of Chance Poore.
No one could have foreseen this start for Kentucky Football. Even the most optimistic fan though this team would have at least one loss through the first five games, but here we are with the Wildcats sitting at 5-0 for the first time since 2007.
Kentucky is now is a great position to play Georgia for the SEC East and are now playing with house money next week at A&M. Kentucky’s fast start has given them a chance to afford a loss between now and the Georgia game and still play for the division crown at Kroger Field.
Celebrate the win and get ready for a battle next weekend.
Now, here are some postgame notes and milestones, courtesy of UK Athletics:
- Kentucky is 5-0 for the first time since 2007 and the fifth time since World War II (also 1949, 1950, 1984).
- UK is 3-0 in SEC play for the first time since the 1977 team went undefeated in league play and the fourth time in school history (also 1949 and 1950).
- UK has its most SEC wins over three seasons (11) since 1977-79 (11).
- UK is 7-3 in its last 10 SEC home games, tying its best 10-game home stretch in the history of Kroger Field/Commonwealth Stadium, going 7-3 from Nov. 9, 1974 to Nov. 19, 1977.
- UK is 14-5 in its last 19 regular season games. That’s the best 19-game regular-season stretch since Nov. 13, 1976, to Oct. 21, 1978 (14-4-1).
- UK is 13-4 in its last 17 home games. It is the best stretch since 2006-08.
- UK is 17-5 in August/September over the last five seasons.
- Tonight’s attendance of 63,081 is the third-largest since the renovation of Kroger Field in 2015.
- UK has allowed 63 points this season, fewest in the first five games of a season since 2008.
- UK has allowed 33 points in three SEC games this season, fewest in first three SEC games since 1977.
- This is the first time UK has scored at least 24 points in its first three SEC games since 1997.
- This is the first time UK has allowed 16 points or fewer in its first three SEC games since 1977.
- UK has allowed 20 points or less in all five games this season, first time since 2008 that UK has allowed five straight opponents to 20 or less.
- UK has allowed 360 yards or less in all five games, first time UK has allowed 360 or less to the first five opponents since 1987.
- UK scored all 24 points on four consecutive possessions in the first half with a field goal and three straight TDs.
- UK’s 24-3 halftime lead was its largest vs. an SEC opponent since leading Vanderbilt 34-10 at halftime in 2005.
Notes on the Scoring Margin
- UK has five consecutive wins by at least 11 points in the same season for the first time since 1977.
- UK opened the season with five consecutive wins by at least 11 points for the first time since 1950.
- UK has three SEC wins by at least 11 points in the same season for the first time since 2002.
- UK has three consecutive SEC wins by at least 11 points for the first time since 1999.
- UK has started SEC play 3-0 with each win by at least 11 points for the first time since 1977.
- UK has won its first four home games by at least 14 points, first time since 1987.
- UK’s game captains were RB Benny Snell, S Mike Edwards, LB Kash Daniel and LB Josh Allen.
- Sophomore quarterback Terry Wilson completed 13 of 20 passes for 132 yards.He rushed 9 times for 59 yards, including a one-yard touchdown run.
- He became the first UK quarterback to win his first five career starts since Bill Ransdell in 1984.
- Junior running back Benny Snell Jr. rushed 28 times for 99 yards and one touchdown.He extended his UK career touchdown record to 40 total TDs.
- Has 3,063 career rushing yards, surpassing Rafael Little (2,996) for third place in UK history.
- Snell has 18 touchdowns in the last eight home games.
- Sophomore running back A.J. Rose rushed seven times for 38 yards, including an outstanding 24-yard touchdown run.
- Sophomore wide receiver Lynn Bowden caught four passes for 18 yards.
- Senior wide receiver Dorian Baker caught two passes for 29 yards.He now has 1,113 career receiving yards, moving past Javess Blue (1,111) for 25th place on the UK career list.
- Senior linebacker Josh Allen had another incredible game. He had eight tackles, four tackles for loss (-19), including three quarterback sacks (-17), caused one fumble and had a quarterback hurry.He has 20.5 career quarterback sacks, moving past Dennis Johnson (19 sacks) for third place on the UK career list.
- He is the first UK player with three sacks in an SEC game since Marlon McCree vs. South Carolina in 1998.
- He is the first UK player with four tackles for loss in any game since Marlon McCree vs. Florida in 1998.
- Senior safety Darius West picked off his second interception of the season, third of his career. He also had two pass breakups tonight.
- Senior safety Mike Edwards got his first interception of the season, ninth of his career.