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Kentucky rolls past New Mexico State: 4 things to know and postgame banter

Kentucky will need to clean up the turnovers before next week’s matchup with Louisville.

Syndication: The Courier-Journal Scott Utterback/Couurier Journal / USA TODAY NETWORK

It was Senior Day for the Kentucky Wildcats and the 25 seniors participating in the Senior Day event as they faced off against the New Mexico State Aggies.

Kentucky fell behind early thanks to a fumbled recovered for a touchdown by the Aggies, but the Cats quickly found their rhythm and scored 21 unanswered to take control of this game.

Mark Stoops’ squad got a lot of production from seniors on both sides of the ball as the Cats were able to roll to a 56-16 victory.

Will Levis finished 21/31 passing for 419 yards and four scores vs. one interception. That was the first time a UK passer has hit 400+ since Andre Woodson in 2007, while the Cats’ offense racked up 707 yards, the second-highest mark in program history. If not for four turnovers by the Cats, they probably score 70+ points today.

If you missed any of the action from Saturday’s game, here are four things you need to know about the final home game for the 2021 season.

Thank You Seniors

The class of 2021 is one that has played a massive role in getting this program to the level it is at today.

This group of 25 seniors has given so much to this program and deserve a ton a praise for the careers they have had.

This program is reaching heights that no one expected we would see in Lexington, and it wouldn’t be possible without the sacrifices and efforts of each player that walks through those doors.

Saturday was a day to recognize the job they have done and all of the success this group has had.

I know all of the BBN will join me in thanking them for the outstanding job they have done for this program.

Senior Touchdowns

One thing that everyone wants to see on Senior Day is seniors finding the end zone in their final game in Kroger Field.

Well, Kentucky’s win on Saturday was filled with touchdowns from seniors.

Super senior Justin Rigg got the scoring started for the Cats as he hauled in a 32-yard touchdown pass from Will Levis.

That was followed senior defensive back Quandre Mosely coming up with a pick six to give Kentucky a 14-7 lead.

Wide receiver Josh Ali was the third senior of the day to find the end zone as he came up with a 9-yard receiving touchdown for the 28-10 lead.

Rigg found the end zone again late in the second quarter on a 2-yard reception for his second touchdown of the game and giving the Cats a 35-13 lead.

Ali was the second senior to find the end zone for a second time as he got a reception and broke a tackle on his way to a 62-yard touchdown catch for a 42-16 lead.

Rigg finished with 2 catches for 34-yards and 2 touchdowns, and Ali went on to finish with 7 catches for 164-yards and 2 touchdowns.

Overcoming Turnovers

The fact that the Cats are holding an 8-3 overall record despite being -15 in the turnover margin is an amazing stat.

Once again today, the turnover bug bit the Cats as a bad snap on the first possession of the game resulted in a scoop and score for the Aggies giving them the 7-0 lead.

Late in the 2nd quarter, the Cats had their longest play of the season with a 79-yard pass to Wan’Dale Robinson. However, the very next play was yet another fumble on the goal line from Chris Rodriguez that was recovered by the Aggies.

We have seen Will Levis struggle some with interceptions this season and he had another one in this one late in the 3rd quarter for their third turnover of the day.

Kentucky would end up finishing with 4 total turnovers on the day.

However, like we have seen time and time again this season the Cats were able to overcome their turnover issues and still roll to a blowout victory.

First 1,000-yard receiver under Stoops

The Mark Stoops era has been a run heavy offense, but they have had a ton of success keeping the ball on the ground.

However, Stoops and the BBN knew that the game was changing, and that Kentucky was going to have to make some changes offensively to get a better passing game.

Stoops goes out and brings in Liam Coen to be the new offensive coordinator and then brings in Nebraska transfer Wan’Dale Robinson and that combo has led to a ton of success passing the ball this season.

In fact, Robinson finished Saturday’s game with 8 catches for 181-yards, and in the process became the first 1,000-yard receiver in the Stoops era and is just the 6th in the history of the program.

I don’t expect Robinson to be the last.

The Cats will make the trip to face off with the Louisville Cardinals in the final regular season game next Saturday. The kickoff time and TV channel will be announced on Monday.