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Highlights, box score & MVP from Wildcats beating NC State to win Gator Bowl

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A great day to be a Wildcat.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 TaxSlayer Gator Bowl - NC State v Kentucky Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Kentucky Wildcats ended their season with a 23-21 Gator Bowl win Saturday against the NC State Wolfpack. The Cats end their season at 5-6 with a top-25 win and their third straight bowl victory.

Offensively, Mark Stoops got his dream for a ground and pound type of game. Vince Marrow tried to stretch it down field a couple of times, but had no reason to go away from the run game.

We continued to see a lot of the struggles we have seen all season as they could not get any sort of pass game going consistently. Once again, though, the offensive line and trio of running backs carried the day. We saw a fair share of AJ Rose, Chris Rodriguez Jr. and Kavosiey Smoke all afternoon.

For an NC State offense that averaged 31.1 ppg and nearly 400 ypg coming into today, the Cats’ defense wasn’t budging. Brad White called a heck of a game, and his players executed it. Tim Beck’s offense was unable to put together consistent positive plays whether they where in the run or pass game.

Coverage by the secondary was excellent most of afternoon, though it got gashed in the end after losing cornerback after cornerback to injury. The defensive line continued to show promise in stopping the run game.

Overall, it was an impressive way to end the season. There were a lot of ups and downs through the course of the schedule, and this team went through a lot emotionally off the field, but they showed heart and pride to wear Kentucky across their chest.

And it paves the way for what should be an offseason full of hype for Liam Coen and his new offensive scheme coming to Lexington.

Box Score

MVP

AJ Rose is the co-MVP with the defense today. Rose once again showed up in the bowl game as he carried the ball 12 times for a career-high 148 yards with a couple explosive plays to keep drives alive throughout the game. And if it wasn’t for him, the offense might not have been in scoring position at all.

The defense has shown up each week. When the offense hasn’t put them in bad spots and kept them on the field all night they have dominated. They did that tonight even with the offense being pretty choppy and all the penalties that put their back against the wall. Interceptions from Brandin Echols, Yusuf Corker and Jamin Davis all but sealed the victory for the Cats. The strength of this football program for the last several years continued to produce when Kentucky needed it most.

Highlights

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