The Kentucky Wildcats went into Jordan-Hare Stadium to face the Auburn Tigers on Saturday as college football’s sexy pick to produce an upset. The only thing upsetting for Kentucky fans was the final result.
While the Wildcats looked on par with Auburn for the majority of the game, the turnover difference was too much to overcome along with some very, very spotty officiating.
This was not an all systems failure. Kentucky did look good in multiple aspects of the game. Offensively the Cats were as balanced as I can remember in the pass and run games. They rushed for 145 yards and Terry Wilson passed for 239 yards. Both numbers were better than what the Auburn Tigers put up.
That being said, I feel like the coaching staff is trying too hard to work in all of their weapons at running back. Kavosiey Smoke did the most damage on seven carries for 62 yards and a touchdown. I feel for the second season in a row that he is a star waiting to break out for the Cats.
Josh Ali had a breakout game with nine receptions for 98 yards. He did have a crucial drop that I am sure he would like to have back.
All in all, I wasn’t too upset with the offense itself. The turnovers were killer and I’ll get to those later.
The Wildcats were robbed of a touchdown. That’s it. That’s the bad. Christopher Rodriguez scored late in the first half, and the touchdown ended up not counting because the refs somehow were able to determine his knee was down even though the evidence was sketchy at best.
But instead of going into halftime up by a touchdown with the ball, the Cats were demoralized after the botched review and a bad throw by Terry Wilson that resulted in an interception.
Three turnovers given and zero takeaways by the defense is the theme for The Ugly portion of the game. While Terry Wilson looked better than I had anticipated, his two turnovers were backbreakers for Kentucky.
While Wilson’s interception didn’t end up in points thanks to a targeting call against Auburn on the return, the turnover changed the dynamic of the game. Up until that point, Kentucky had been controlling the game and was forcing Auburn to play their style of football.
The second Wilson turnover did end up in seven points for the Tigers and put the Cats in a 22-13 hole they never recovered from.
The defense was disappointing as well. Bo Nix was electric in the second half as he continued to go to Seth Williams in the end zone and both times it paid off with touchdowns. The Kentucky defense didn’t force any turnovers of their own, as the Tiger offense was sound from the beginning of the second half until the end of the game.
The Mark Stoops brand of football actually worked out exactly the way it was supposed to: low scoring, high time of possession for the Cats, methodical on offense, and the defense is the centerpiece of the game. But three turnovers is too much to overcome with that style of offense.
As improved as the Cats were offensively, they weren’t very explosive. The passing game was comprised mostly of short yardage dinks and dunks with the occasional down the field pass thrown into the mix. But if that is the offense the Cats are going to run then turnovers must be eliminated for success to continue.
The Ole Miss Rebels are coming to Lexington on Saturday after a loss to the Florida Gators. While the defense of Ole Miss left a lot to be desired, it’s clear that Lane Kiffin has his offense tuned up and ready to go.
Once again Kentucky will try to dictate the terms and pacing of the game. But they have to clean up the mistakes or it’ll be an 0-2 start and a most imposing hill to climb.