The Kentucky Wildcats were back at home Saturday night as they looked to put an end to their two-game losing streak with Mississippi State in town. It was also a welcomed sight to see Will Levis back after missing last week with a foot injury.
The Bulldogs took the lead in the 3rd quarter, but the Cats responded and were able to get a massive win and put the season back on track, getting the 27-17 victory.
Here are five things to know from Saturday night’s much-needed triumph.
Injuries Continue to Pile Up
The Cats just can’t seem to escape the injury bug.
Tayvion Robinson went down with a leg injury during the matchup against South Carolina and was unable to go this week which is a significant loss for Kentucky’s already struggling offense.
The Cats immediately felt the loss of Robinson as a turnover by Rahsaan Lewis on their first possession ended what was shaping up to be a promising opening drive.
Will Levis missed last week’s game with a foot injury but was able to start the game this week.
Unfortunately, early in the second half, Levis took a hard hit on a deep completion to Barion Brown and came down on his left shoulder. Levis stayed on the ground and immediately ran back to the locker room.
Thankfully, the rest of that drive was all the time that Levis missed as he was able to return to the game.
Here’s to hoping it is not a long-term injury for Robinson and that Levis is fine after the BYE week!
Will Levis Powers Through Injuries
After missing last week due to injury, Will Levis looked a little shaky at first but quickly started hitting his receivers after a few missed throws.
However, he was also still under a ton of pressure from the Bulldogs’ defensive line and didn’t have much time in the pocket to make a play.
The main problem in the first half was finishing drives. Levis led three separate 10+ play drives that resulted in 0 points.
After coming back from his early second half injury, Levis led back-to-back touchdown drives to give the Cats all the momentum and a 20-10 lead.
Levis went on to finish the game with 230-yards, a touchdown, and an INT while completing 17 of his 23 pass attempts.
It wasn’t always a pretty game from Levis, but he pushed through a shoulder injury and did exactly what the Cats needed to get the win.
Chris Rodriguez Dominates
There was no doubt that Kentucky missed Rodriguez during the first four games of the season as the Cats struggled to get any offense going on the ground.
Rodriguez has been getting his legs back under him the last couple of weeks, but he looked like the Rodriguez of old Saturday night.
With Levis banged up, the Cats went with a heavy dose of Rodriguez while trailing by 4 in the third quarter, and he delivered, busting off a 47-yard run to set up the go ahead touchdown.
Early in the 4th quarter, the Cats were clinging to a slim lead but Rodriguez powered through for a 16-yard touchdown run giving Kentucky a 20-10 lead.
The Bulldogs cut the lead to 20-17 but after a 50-yard pass by Levis, Rodriguez punched it in from 7-yards out to make it a 27-17 ballgame.
For the game, Rodriguez carried the ball 31 times for 197-yards (6.4 per carry) and 2 touchdowns.
Defense Shines Once Again
All season, Brad White’s defense has been outstanding for the Cats and that was the case again on Saturday night.
Mississippi State came into this game averaging 37.8 points per game and the Cats had them sitting on 3 points at halftime.
The Bulldogs are known for their air raid offense but entered Saturday averaging 106.7 rushing yards per game. At the half, the Bulldogs were sitting on 14 yards and finished the game with just 17-yards on the ground.
As for the passing defense, the Bulldogs had been racking up 354.6 yards per game. Kentucky held them to just 77-yards in the first half and the Bulldogs ended the night with 203-yards, well below their season average.
Another very impressive performance for Kentucky’s defense!
It looked like Alabama’s 17 penalties against Tennessee was going to be the highest of the day, but the Cats racked up 8 of their own in just the first quarter costing them 60-yards.
By halftime, the Cats had 10 penalties for 70-yards and found themselves tied at 3 when they could easily have the lead if they stop putting themselves behind the chains.
Thankfully, the Cats cleaned up a lot of those mistakes as they committed just one penalty in the second half.
It is a lot easier to move the chains and put points on the scoreboard when you don’t start 1st and 15.
The Cats will have a much-needed BYE week next week to try and get healthy before making the trip to face the Tennessee Volunteers.