Kentucky Blasts New Mexico State 56-16

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Much Needed Easy Victory

Traditionally the next to last weekend of the football season is known as “Cupcake Saturday.” On this day many of the SEC teams play FCS schools or typically bad squads they should easily beat. That’s exactly what happened for Mark Stoops’ Cats on Saturday. Though far from a perfect game let’s break it down as Kentucky blasts New Mexico State 56-16.

Huge Day For The Offense

Playing against an overmatched Aggies squad Kentucky rolled up 707 yards of total offense. That’s the second-highest total in school history trailing only the 801 yards Tim Couch and the “Air Raid” offense amassed against Louisville in 1998. Shaking off a slow start Will Levis completed 21 of 31 passes for 419 yards and four touchdowns. As a result, he became the first UK signal-caller since Andre Woodson in 2007 to top 400 yards.

In addition to Levis, several other Cats had huge days. Wan’Dale Robinson continued his great season hauling in eight passes for 181 yards while Josh Ali caught seven balls for 164 yards and two touchdowns. In Robinson’s case, he’s the first player under Stoops to have a 1,000-yard season. Tight end Justin Rigg added two scoring catches as well. Running back Chris Rodriguez gained 116 yards and added a touchdown. However, he had another fumble. While there were plenty of highlights an old problem continued to give the Cats issues.

The Turnover Bug

UK couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start as Levis couldn’t handle a high snap and New Mexico State’s Trevor Brohard ran it back 25 yards to give the Aggies an early 7-0 lead. Levis also had an interception to go with his fumble. Three of the four happened in the red zone so the score could have been much worse. Kentucky’s defense didn’t allow a touchdown in the game only the three field goals.

In addition, the Cat’s four total turnovers give them a -13 margin for the season. That ranks second to worst in college football. However, the amazing thing is UK is 8-3 while everyone else at the bottom is having a terrible season. In order for them to beat Louisville, they can’t have that many miscues.

Other than the turnovers it was a great day as Kentucky blasts New Mexico State 56-16 and it afforded players who hadn’t seen the field much a chance to play.

Gaining Some Experience

If you read our game preview we told you the hope for the Kentucky coaching staff was to get out to a big lead so the reserves who hadn’t played much in 2021 could get some playing time. For a while, it didn’t look like it was happening as UK only led 35-16 at the half. Meanwhile, Stoops challenged the squad to put the game away in the second half and that’s what they did.

The Big Blue Nation finally got to see hometown hero Beau Allen get some playing time. The Lexington Catholic standout played most of the fourth quarter completing three of four passes for 40 yards. In addition, he got his first collegiate touchdown.

Allen,  as well as another player who impressed, was a freshman running back La’Vell Wright. The Louisville native gained 75 yards on only six carries and came ever so close to getting his first score.

Looking Ahead

With the victory, the Cats improve to 8-3 on the season. It’s only the third time since 1950 UK has won at least eight games in the regular season. The others were 1977, 1984, and 2018. Up next they face their in-state rival Louisville in the renewal of the “Battle For The Governor’s Cup.” The two schools had met every year since 1994. Although, the series took a one-year hiatus when the SEC opted for a league-only schedule due to the pandemic. Kentucky’s won the last two in the series by a combined score of 101-23.

On the other side of the ball, the Aggies drop to 1-10. They’ll finish up in 2021 when they host UMass. It’s likely the swan song for head coach and former Wildcat Doug Martin as there’s a lot of speculation he’s retiring at the end of the year.

As has been noted above, Kentucky blasts New Mexico State 56-16 and sends their seniors out on a winning note. They remain in the driver’s seat for a trip to Tampa in the Outback Bowl. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll have updated bowl projections later this week and then get you ready for the game against Louisville.