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.
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.”
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.
From our friends at Kentucky Wildcats TV, Mark Stoops’ press conference after last night’s loss to No. 1-ranked Mississippi State.
Here’s a look at where Kentucky ranks in the NCAA statistics through Saturday’s games:
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.
Big Blue Links for Sunday:
- List of maybes hurt Kentucky in loss to top-ranked Mississippi State, reports Jennifer Smith of Herald-Leader.
- Patrick Towles bounces back in a big way, writes Mark Story of Herald-Leader.
- Cats show they are getting closer, says my column.
- No. 1-ranked Mississippi State foils Kentucky’s upset bid, reports Kyle Tucker of Courier-Journal.
- State coach Dan Mullen says Kentucky is “very dangerous,” reports Adam Himmelsbach of Courier-Journal.
- UK delivers its best shot, but State survives, writes Rick Bozich of WDRB.
- Josh Robinson’s backfield in motion helps Mississippi State remain undefeated, writes Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports.
- Ebuillent Robinson leads Bulldogs, writes Brian Hamilton of SI.com.
- State bearing No. 1 weight but still bearing fruit, says USA Today’s Dan Wolken.
- Almost not quite good enough for Cats, writes Ashley Scoby of KyForward.
- Quinton Baker commits to Kentucky, reports Ben Roberts of Next Cats.
- Class of 2016 linebacker also commits to Cats, reports Roberts.
- Suspect run defense hurt the Cats, writes Joshua Huff of the Kentucky Kernel.
- Bud Dupree knows mistakes need to be corrected, reports Keith Taylor of Winchester Sun.
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.