Mistakes Doom The Cats Again
Over the last two years Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats went 18-8 overall and an even .500 in the SEC. As a result many in the Big Blue Nation thought the days of the “old Kentucky football” was gone. The ones that time after time snatched defeat from victory by any creative means. However two games into the 2020 season that Kentucky seems to be back. Turnovers cost them a winnable game at Auburn last week. On Saturday mistakes and the inability to stop the Rebels caused the Cats to come up short again. Difficult as it is let’s go through it as Kentucky loses 42-41 heartbreaker to Ole Miss in overtime.
A Rough Start
Following a Ole Miss score A.J. Rose took the first play from scrimmage 72 yards and appeared headed for a touchdown. However after celebrating too early the senior was brought down at the three yard line. Two plays later Rose fumbled and the Cats came away empty handed.
He put up the ✌️ … and then it went bad 😳 pic.twitter.com/RidTVbdENA
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) October 3, 2020
Kentucky kept pounding the Ole Miss defense with the run eventually taking a 21-14 halftime lead. Terry Wilson ran it in twice and Rose redeemed himself with the other score. However Kentucky fans couldn’t help thinking they should be up by more and hoped it wouldn’t come back to haunt them. Unfortunately those fears turned out to be true.
Problems With The Kicking Game
A Christopher Rodriguez score put the Cats up 28-14 early in the fourth quarter and True Blue Fans were feeling good. Unfortunately it was short lived as quarterback Matt Corral led the Rebels to 21 unanswered points to take a 35-28 lead. Two of the scores came on passes to Jonathan Mingo and a one yard run by Snoop Connor gave Ole Miss the lead. Another touchdown run by Rodriquez forced overtime.
In the extra period the Cats got the ball first and Wilson’s 10 yard run gave the Cats the lead. However kicker Matt Ruffolo missed the extra point putting the Cats up by six and giving everyone in the stands a feeling of dread. Earlier in the game Ruffolo missed a 49 yard field goal which would have extended the lead. On the ensuing Rebels’ possession a pass interference penalty on Kelvin Joseph in the end zone set the Rebels up for the win. Two plays later Corral hit Elijah Moore for the score. Luke Logan hit the extra point and Kentucky loses a 42-41 heartbreaker to Ole Miss. The victory evened their record at 1-1 and gave Lane Kiffin his first SEC win since 2009.
Looking For Answers
For the game Corral completed 24 of 29 passes for 324 yards and four touchdowns. He also led the Rebels in rushing with 51 yards. Its the second straight game an opposing quarterback torched the highly touted Kentucky secondary. In addition it’s the second straight rough game for the former LSU transfer Joseph. How bad has the secondary been? The numbers don’t lie.
Kentucky's secondary was the (very) pleasant surprise of last season, ranking top-two nationally in pass D and passing TD allowed.
Two games this season, opposing quarterbacks are 40 of 66 for 553 yards, 7 TD, 0 INT. That ain't gonna cut it.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_ATH) October 3, 2020
As for the Cats, they again dominated most of the statistical categories only to come up with a second straight loss. Kentucky ran for 409 yards on the day with Rodriguez, Rose and Wilson all going over 100 yards. Overall the Cats outgained Ole Miss 559 yards to 459. It’s only the second time under Stoops Kentucky’s run for over 400 yards and lost. The other was a 49-36 loss to Tennessee in 2016 when the Cats gained 443 yards on the ground. If you read our preview of the game you know we said Kentucky had to get back to playing their brand of football. They did just that but left 11 points on the field and you can’t do that in the SEC.
Kentucky drops to 0-2 for the first time since the 2016 season. The Cats ended up that year 7-6 but playing against an all-SEC schedule really puts them in a bad way. It doesn’t get any easier next week as Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs come to town. For Leach it’s his first trip back to Lexington since he was the offensive coordinator in the late 1990’s under Hal Mumme. With quarterback Tim Couch they helped usher in the “Air Raid” offense. After a record setting day against LSU two weeks ago Arkansas shocked the Bulldogs 21-14 Saturday night.
As for the Rebels, they host an Alabama squad who are coming off a 52-24 win over Texas A&M. That one promises to be a shootout in Oxford. The Crimson Tide leads that series 51 wins to 10 with two ties.
Again Kentucky loses a 42-41 heartbreaker to Ole Miss in a game they should have won. What was supposed to be a great season for the Cats is quickly spiraling downward. They really needed to sweep the state of Mississippi with games against Tennessee and Georgia on the horizon. Thanks for checking out our recap of the game here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back later in the week with a preview of the Mississippi State game.