The Kentucky Wildcats entered Lexington on Saturday night as a home underdog (-3.5) against the 16th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs.
The Cats started out moving the ball well but also had nine penalties, a fumble, and a big return called back in the first quarter.
Outside of a few penalties, the defense showed up in the first half and held the explosive Mississippi State offense to 96 yards and three points. Kentucky’s offense struggled but did come away with 3 points.
The Kentucky offense came out of the half scoring on back-to-back drives, despite quarterback Will Levis getting injured on the first drive and returning for the second drive of the half that resulted in a touchdown
The Wildcats finished strong and tacked on two more touchdowns en route to a 27-17 victory.
The Kentucky defense was the star of the night, holding the high-powered Mississippi State offense to a mere 225 yards, while the Cats’ offense nearly doubled them up with 435 yards.
The offense was led by the senior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., who ran for 199 yards on 30 carries and two touchdowns. The game also saw him join the 3,000 yard rushing club at Kentucky, which has only four other members.
Speaking of history, according to UK stat guru Corey Price, Mark Stoops is now the program’s all-time leader in AP Top 25 wins. It’s also Kentucky’s second win over a ranked team this season after winning at then-No. 12 Florida in Week 2.
Tonight was @UKCoachStoops’ 11th win against an AP Poll Top 25 opponent, the most for any @UKFootball head coach in program history— Corey Price (@coreyp08) October 16, 2022
Now, here are all the postgame notes and milestones via UK Athletics.
Team Records and Series Information
- Kentucky is 5-2 overall and 2-2 in the Southeastern Conference, while Mississippi State is also 5-2 and 2-2 in the league.
- The Wildcats and the Bulldogs are now tied in the all-time series, 25-25.
- This was the first time UK and MSU played when both teams were ranked.
- Kentucky leads in games played in Lexington, 16-9.
- Next, Kentucky has an open date next weekend before playing at Tennessee in Knoxville, Tennessee, on Oct. 29. The game time and television assignment will be announced Monday.
What the Win Means for the Wildcats
- This is the fifth instance that a Stoops-coached team got off to a start as good or better than 5-2, joining 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2021.
- It is first time UK has been 5-2 or better in consecutive seasons since 2007-08.
- It is the second win against a ranked opponent this season, in addition to the win at No. 12/19 Florida.
- It is the third-straight season and fourth time in the last five seasons that UK has won two games against ranked opponents. Prior to 2018, the Wildcats had just one season with multiple wins against ranked foes in the previous 40 years (two in 2007).
- Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops improved his Kentucky records for wins (64), SEC wins (31) and home wins (45).
- This was Stoops’ 11th win against an Associated Press top-25 team, most for any coach in school history.
- UK had 478 yards of total offense, evenly balanced with 239 passing yards and a season-high 239 rushing yards.
- UK went 9-of-9 on third-down passing attempts for 194 yards.
- UK generated 24 first downs and had a season high 39:22 time of possession.
- UK limited MSU to season lows for total offense (225 yards), rushing yards (22), passing yards (203) and first downs (13). UK also allowed only 10 offensive points.
- 22 rushing yards is the fewest UK has allowed since the Mississippi State game in 2020 (20 yards in that game).
- UK has allowed 24 or fewer points in 11 straight games, while the Cats have gone 9-2 during that span.
- It is the longest streak since a 12-game stretch of 24 or fewer points in the 1979-80 seasons.
- UK has allowed 30 or fewer points in 53 of the last 59 games.
- UK has allowed 115 points so far this season, the fewest in the first seven games since 2018 (90 in the first seven games).
- UK has allowed fewer than 400 yards total offense in 11 consecutive games, best since a 13-game streak in the 1988-89 seasons.
- Quarterback Will Levis completed 17 of his 23 passes, and just one interception, for 230 yards and a touchdown.
- Levis now has 37 passing touchdowns in his Kentucky career, which remains the sixth most in program history.
- He needs just one more to move into the top five.
- Levis now has 4,462 passing yards in his Kentucky career, jumping two spots on the career chart to eighth in program history.
- He needs just 52 more to move into seventh.
- Running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. rushed 31 times for 197 yards and two touchdowns.
- His 31 carries are a career best and most for a UK running back since Benny Snell had 32 carries against Vanderbilt in 2018.
- Rodriguez’ 197 yards are the second-most in his career and his two touchdowns are tied for the second most in his career.
- Rodriguez’ 197 yards are the third-most in UK history vs. Mississippi State.
- This marked the 17th 100-yard rushing game of his career, which is the third-most in program history.
- He needs just one more 100+ yard rushing game to tie for second.
- He is the third player in UK history to have 190+ yardage games in multiple seasons, also Sonny Collins and Benny Snell.
- He eclipsed 3,000 career rushing yards in tonight’s game, just the fourth player in program history to accomplish that feat. He has 3,135 rushing yards in his career, the fourth most in program history.
- He needs 198 more yards to advance to third.
- Wide receiver Rahsaan Lewis scored the first touchdown of his career on a three-yard reception in the third quarter to take, and eventually hold, the lead in the game.
- He had a career-best four catches on a career-best 42 yards, while he also had a career-long 21-yard catch.
- Wide receiver Barion Brown had a career-high seven catches for 62 yards.
- It is the most catches for a UK freshman since Daryl Collins had seven receptions vs. Louisville in 2012.
- Running back JuTahn McClain had three catches for a season-best 48 yards.
- Linebacker DeAndre Square tied his season high with 11 total tackles against Mississippi State, including four solo stops and one-half of a tackle for loss.
- Square had the third interception of his career, and the first of the season, returning it for eight yards to the Bulldogs’ 32-yard line.
- It proved to be the game-clinching pickoff, coming on the Bulldogs’ final possession with 4:01 to play.
- Defensive back Carrington Valentine had a team-best six solo tackles and one sack, and tied for the team best with one tackle for loss.
- Kicker Matt Ruffolo kicked a pair of field goals from 28 and 37 yards out, respectively, while he went 3-of-3 on extra point attempts.
- He now has 219 points in his career, the eighth most in school history. He needs seven more to move into a tie for sixth.
- Game captains: DeAndre Square, Will Levis, Kenneth Horsey and Chris Rodriguez Jr.