Dark clouds, silver linings for Kentucky football

My Monday morning follow column:

Dark clouds and silver linings from Kentucky’s 45-31 loss to No. 1-ranked Mississippi State on Saturday:

Dark cloud: After giving up 303 rushing yards at LSU, the Kentucky defense gave up 326 rushing yards to the No. 1-ranked Bulldogs. The last time UK gave up 300-or-more rushing yards was in 1994 when Florida rushed for 304 and Indiana 564 in back-to-back weeks. That 1994 team went 1-10.

Silver lining: This Kentucky team is 5-3.

Dark cloud: All season long, Kentucky has searched for improved play at linebacker, especially against the run.

Silver lining: Mississippi State is the No. 1 offense in the SEC and No. 9 in the nation. Plus, you know that on the recruiting trail, Mark Stoops is searching feverishly for linebacker help.

Dark cloud: Kentucky has not won a road game on an opponent’s home field since a 23-16 win at Louisville on September 4, 2010. That’s not counting the 14-3 win over Western Kentucky in 2011 at LP Field in Nashville. Kentucky has lost 20 straight games on an opponent’s home field.

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Good Andy Dalton wins out in the end

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My column from Cincinnati:

CINCINNATI — You know the storyline. There’s Good Andy. There’s Bad Andy. There’s the Good Andy Dalton that throws touchdowns and raises hopes. There’s the Bad Andy Dalton that turns the ball over and breaks hearts.

Two straight fourth-quarter possessions Sunday, Bad Andy visited Paul Brown Stadium. He fumbled which led to a Baltimore Ravens’ touchdown and a one-point Ravens’ lead. He then threw an interception, which led to a Baltimore Ravens’ field goal and a four-point Ravens’ lead with 3:59 remaining.

Bad Andy, however, didn’t trump Good Andy.

“I used to say the best and worst thing about Andy is that he’s one of the most stubborn people I know,” said offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth. “He just doesn’t flinch.”

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Video: Andy Dalton on rebounding to beat Ravens

I was in Cincinnati today, covering the Bengals’ 27-24 win over the Ravens (column to come). Here’s video of quarterback Andy Dalton talking about how he shook off two fourth-quarter turnovers to direct the winning drive.

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Video: Mark Stoops presser after MSU game

From our friends at Kentucky Wildcats TV, Mark Stoops’ press conference after last night’s loss to No. 1-ranked Mississippi State.

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Kentucky football in NCAA statistics

Here’s a look at where Kentucky ranks in the NCAA statistics through Saturday’s games:

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Opponents’ 300-yard rushing games vs. Kentucky

Here’s a look at the opponents’ 10 best rushing games against the UK defense over the last 10 seasons, including Mississippi State’s 326 yards on Saturday.

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Big Blue Links: Mississippi State’s backfield in motion

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Big Blue Links for Sunday:

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SEC links: Ole Miss falls from unbeaten ranks

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SEC links for Sunday:

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Kentucky couldn’t quite bring Mississippi State down

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My column from UK-Mississippi State:

It was getting late in the third quarter at Commonwealth Stadium and Kentucky trailed the No. 1 team in the country by just seven points and appeared to have Mississippi State’s bowling ball of a running back, Josh Robinson, cornered for a loss.

Ah, but the first Wildcat bounced off Robinson. And then the second. Third. Fourth. Fifth. Sixth. We counted eight home defenders that touched the Bulldog back who looks like a real bulldog, all 5 feet, 9 inches, and 215 pounds of him. It could have been more, because maybe we lost count. Oh, Robinson was finally tackled, by the way, after a 22-yard gain.

That was sort of a metaphor for Kentucky football on this sunny October Saturday afternoon that turned into an entertaining night. Mark Stoops’ second-year program is making progress and getting close, but the Cats are not to the point where they can wrap up an upset against the nation’s No. 1-ranked team. Not yet.

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Updated SEC football standings: October 26

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