The Kentucky Wildcats had very high hopes for this season. And while many of those goals are still attainable, losing at Mississippi State again was never part of the plan. However, the Wildcats fell in Starkville yet again with a final score of 31-17.
While it would be easy to point at an individual performance as the cause of a loss, it was more of an all systems failure for the Wildcats on Saturday. From giving up three rushing touchdowns to the last place rushing team in the SEC to having four inexplicable turnovers, it was never going to be a night Kentucky fans wanted to remember.
Here is what you need to know from tonight’s game.
Twitter was a buzz with complaints that Chris Rodriguez did not start the game and only had three carries in the first half. However, in his first five carries he had two fumbles (recovering one of them) and another called fumble that had to be reversed on replay.
It does not seem like Kavosiey Smoke has what it takes to be a feature back for this team. And if Rodriguez cannot hang onto the ball, where do the Wildcats turn for reliable production in the run game? No, seriously, I’m asking. Because I have no idea.
Yes, Rodriguez had one lost fumble. But Will Levis also threw three interceptions. It would be extremely rare to win a game where you lose the turnover battle in such incredible fashion. But it is almost impossible to win that way on the road in the SEC.
Yes, turnovers will happen with a more aggressive offense. And I do not want to take anything away from Mississippi State’s defense. But Saturday’s performance for Kentucky was inexcusable, and it will not be their final loss for the season if things are not cleaned up.
Even in a year where the offense has been productive, the backbone of this team has been the defense. And while I realize they were not always put in great situations again the Bulldogs, there was very little resistance put up by the Wildcat defense after Mississippi State’s second drive.
This defense has a lot to clean up going into next week’s matchup with Tennessee, who apparently learned how to play offense over the last couple of months.
Kentucky has not won at Mississippi State since 2008. You heard that right: Mark Stoops has never led Kentucky to victory on the road in Starkville. That seems like an extremely odd hurdle to have in your way, especially considering the recent domination of the Bulldogs in Lexington.
We will have to wait two more years for Kentucky to have another chance to break this streak. But perhaps this should be added to the list of streaks that Mark Stoops needs to break for this program.