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“Butt-ugliest” win sets up UK to play Georgia for SEC East championship

Cats win. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By LARRY VAUGHT

Let’s just try to process this.

— Kentucky’s best running back Benny Snell not only had trouble finding running room, but he got benched temporarily in the second half after getting frustrated, talking back to an official and drawing a 15-yard penalty.

— Quarterback Terry Wilson got benched in the second half for three series and then threw a late-game interception.

— Kentucky was 0-for-3 on fourth-down tries and never really got close to getting a first down when it only needed a yard.

— Kentucky was just 3-for-14 on third down conversions.

— Cornerback Derrick Baitty and head coach Mark Stoops got into a shouting match on the sideline based on what the coach said on his postgame radio show.

— Kentucky got penalized three times in the red zone to keep alive Missouri scoring drives in the first half.

— With less than six minutes to play, Missouri led 14-3 and had the football.

Yet in spite of all that, Kentucky won the game 15-14 on a 2-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to tight end C.J. Conrad on a play after time expired because Missouri was called for pass interference in the end zone on the final play of regulation.

Now the SEC East showdown is set up with what UK receiver Lynn Bowden called the “monster” — Georgia. The Cats will host Georgia at 3:30 p.m. Saturday in what will be the biggest home game in 11 years or more.

Of course, Georgia likely will be calling Bowden a few names, too, when it sees he had 13 catches for 165 yards along with a game-changing 67-yard punt return with 5:18 to play — where he told UK coaches to put him in to return a punt for the first time in the game — that cut the lead to 14-9.

SEC Network analyst Matt Stinchcomb had a different way to describe UK’s win — but I don’t think UK can argue with his analysis.

“That was the butt-ugliest win I have seen,” Stinchcomb said. “To be as anemic as they were offensively … take Lynn Bowden out and what did they accomplish. Benny never got going.

“The story of the game, and story of the season, has been their defense. What they did gave Kentucky a chance to win as ugly as they did. This was the kind of game that good teams have to come away with victories. But this was as ugly as it gets.”

It was. But who cares. Not Mark Stoops for sure.

“I don’t know if I have ever won a game like that. Just amazing,” Stoops said. “Just for the defense to play like that against that type of offense. Lynn was at another level tonight. Then the defense … I felt good we would get another stop. Just find a way to win. The offense has to go and score and to have that pressure on them and respond, hopefully that gives us confidence.”
Stoops said he again told his players how proud he was of them and that the team took it to another level by finding a way to win.
“This is what we do. We find a way to win. We have a lot of flaws but you have got to love the attitude, energy and hearts and the way they play,” Stoops said.

28 comments

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  1. I have seen UK lose too many games like UK won today to count them all over the years. A win is a win just as much as all those losses were losses.

    Go Cats. 7-1, 5-1 and playing UGA next week at Kroger field for the SEC East Championship.

    Finally, does this finally put this QB controversy to bed for the rest of this season?

  2. Great Defense and Special Teams.
    Just can’t believe what a great job Gran and Hinshaw have done in preparing and improving their QB’s. Any better and we might actually look like a JV team on offense.
    Glad we finally had a bad call go our way, because there is now way that kid could have caught that ball inbounds; he would have had to be 8 feet tall to make that catch. But hey, we have lost enough of them that way over the years; good to see one go our way.
    I just can’t see this team doing much with Georgia.

    1. All I can say from one old fan to another Old Fan, just be happy. Or just keep thinking that way and maybe that is the karma UK needs to win another one. Bottom line is 7-1. I would rather be 7-1 with play calling you can second guess that 3-5 with the best play calling ever. Like Professor, with all the wins I have seen UK give away going back to 1978, I am going to enjoy games where UK plays poorly and still wins.

      1. ditto

      2. Yes, LV, I am glad UK is 7-1, but I go for all the marbles. I don’t accept “Almost” when the answers are starring you in the face on how and where to improve. I have a very hard time accepting that Hoak has had 3 years with Gran and Hinshaw and this is the best he can do. If I am not mistaken, on every possession, when Hoak was in, UK tried to run the ball on 1st down and usually on 2nd, putting Hoak behind the chains and then Mizzou knew they were going to pass. Yes, Hoak has some work to do and so does Wilson, but I don’t see we are getting much improvement with Hinshaw at the helm of the qbs.
        I love our Defense and they are proving every game that they are one of the tops in the country. I also like the fact that UK won this game on the final drive by “Passing” the ball. If I remember correctly, Snell did not have a carry on the last drive. I am sure he is not happy about that, but he has to learn that other players deserve a chance to show what they can do.
        If UK can develop any type of a passing game, say around 150-200 yards per game, Snell will easily get his 100 yards a game, because that will open things up.
        So glad that Mizzou went to that “prevent” defense. We have seen UK use that many times over the years, and get the same results Mizzou got last night.
        It was a good last call by Gran, because I am sure Mizzo thought Snell would get the ball.

    2. OF…..I am with your sentiments on Gran as well. I still wish he would get fired because his play calling is still atrocious. We did finally get a few nice passes downfield by TW but our down the field passing still a serious work in progress. Our defense is playing “lights out” and is playing the best D in my lifetime even though we did some bending and poor tackling in first half. The whole world knew what Conrad and Bowden were capable of doing, and it seemed like the Gran dud just figured it out today. I found myself hoping that Benny would have dropped a punch on Gran instead of F bomb. Unbelievable ending to the game today, and I think we have a good shot at the Dawgs if we can continue to get downfield with the pass.

  3. I didn’t get to see the game due I’m on the road at Bowling Green on the job, but i did kept up with the score and last time I check it was 14-3 Missouri with 8 minutes left 4th quarter I told myself cats are beat and then I check for the last time I saw the final score. It was shocking to see the cats had came back. GO CATS PROUD OF THEM

  4. The offense played poorly but the defense especially in the second half was incredible. Zero first downs for a team that has one of the top offenses in the country – that’s something special.

    Yes the Cats finally won a game on a miracle finish instead of all the games they have lost on miracles finishes over the last 45 years. The stars were finally on their side.

    I thought the guy had a chance to make the catch at the back of the end zone at the end of regulation play. A slim chance maybe but a chance. The call was legit IMO. But usually those calls go against UK no matter what.

    The entire last drive was something to behold. They looked very, very good on that drive despite being sacked twice.

    Whatever the case the stars were finally on the side of the Wildcats tonight. I’m going to remember this game a long time. And I think the outlook against Georgia is much better after the last drive of that game. They finally got their second way to move the ball. Bowden was sensational and so was Wilson. It should give them the confidence to play against anyone.

  5. I don’t know if we should call this the “Miracle in Missouri” the “Comeback in Columbia”.

    1. I like them both Doug, take your pick.

  6. On a day when the UK offense struggled mightily, UK found a way to win. There were many heroes. Let’s start with the entire UK defense. Mighty kudos to Josh Allen. Bowden was the difference, Bouvier on the last drive kept hopes alive also on his two receptions, and then C. J. Conrad, what a catch in the end zone for the win. Gutsy call by Gran. The Missouri defense came to play, and did just that holding Snell to just 67 yards. This is why UK needs all their weapons, QB and receivers. The UK coaching staff showed courage too, giving Hoak a chance in a very tight game, and playing from behind, like many of us have wanted. He just needs a lot more game experience is all. That said, there is no doubt IMO now that Terry Wilson should be the starting UK QB. He proved in this game that UK can pass the football. He sucked it up and went to work, no pouting, no hanging his head. This was a tremendous win for UK and the history book, and in my memory, maybe the greatest just because of it’s ramifications. I love Snell, but he was out of control toward the end of this game, frustrated, and out of character, He hurt his team too, and was selfish, running his mouth at his OC as he came off the field. Gran should have been in his face for that nonsense. He also got a penalty that hurt UK. Snell is better than that, and will be in the games that remain. No excuse for his actions.

  7. WE need to find out why the OL did not play their usual game,There willl be no one considered for SEC linemen honors this weekend. We went 3-17 on third and forth downs and that will not work if we have any chance against the Dawgs. Why would we continue to throw to Baker when he continues to be a serial dropper? My concern continues to be the lack of ability and creative thinking from Gran? He continues to be weakest link on whole team, and we continue to win in spite of him. Good Luck Cats!

    1. Disagree with you this time Mike, on Gran. He opened his offense up with both the pass and the run yesterday. We saw Hoak for a few series too, who couldn’t move the chains. That last UK drive when it counted was story book. Terry Wilson and the UK offense found a way to close out this game with a win. I knew going in that this game was not going to be a “walk in the park.” Missouri is a good football team, with a veteran QB who can sling it and score a bunch of points. It was a trap game. Missouri came to play yesterday, and UK was in a dog fight. I give Missouri credit, they stopped the UK run game cold, but UK won anyway, and sit at 7-1 right now and on the cusp of an East championship. I give this UK team and their coaches credit today. They find ways to win. That is all I really counts in the end. Just think, had UK won at A&M, which they had their chance to do, where this team would be right now. It will take UK several seasons like this one to gain the national respect we all want for UK football. I don’t like that, but that is the way it is for now. I think it makes UK play harder.

    2. Your comment on Baker Mike, if he is open, the UK QB throws to him for the same reason we tell a shooting guard to keep shooting even though he has missed a few. Before this season is over, Baker will rise to the occasion. I believe it happens against UGA. He is a good football player, and has proven that in the past.

  8. I have to comment on ESPN’s total lack of respect for UK. They even talked about how “Terry Jackson” threw the winning touchdown pass at the end of the game. This is the same place that consistently picks Mizzou over UK despite the fact UK keeps beating the Tigers. They could talk about nothing but the lack of offense and did NOT even mention the stellar play of UK’s defense. UK held one of the top rated offenses in the country to ZERO first downs in the second half. How is that not news? They had less than 50 yards in that half – that is extraordinarily good. Mizzou was averaging over 500 yards a game and 38 points a game. UK essentially shut them down the entire game. UK continues to be have one of the best defenses in the entire country. And let’s not forget that old axiom, defense wins championships.

    This UK team is very good. They were one badly called play away from being undefeated IMO. ESPN rated their schedule as the 7th toughest in the country last week. Yet Florida, which UK beat soundly in the Swamp, was rated higher in every poll and by everyone I saw doing ratings.

    The rubber hits the road next week. Thankfully the game is in Commonwealth (it will always be Commonwealth to me). UK’s fans should be delirious. Missouri fans were right on top of UK and it never seemed to be a factor. That will not be the case against Georgia. UK fans will matter. It won’t just be the student section sitting right behind the opponents bench. The entire stadium will be rocking.

    I’d truly love to see UK win one for the ages this week. Who knows. Maybe Alabama is on the radar. The experts will give UK no chance in that game. But they gave UK no chance in Columbia this week and no chance in the Swamp etc. etc.. It just wouldn’t seem right if they gave UK any credit. “Jackson” (Wilson) just might become the QB UK needs now. He was tremendous on that last drive. There’s no reason he can’t do that more often.

  9. That was a crazy game to watch. When was the last time UK Defense pitched a no hitter in the 2nd half. When was the last time a UK Offense drove the ball 81 yards, took a sack and still had a game winning touchdown pass(not field goal) in under 2 minutes. One of the themes of this team has been Big Time Players making Big Time Plays. The defense as a whole were Big Time Players. Best I can remember. That last drive was Big Time Players making Big Time Plays. I hope it is a sign of the future. Terry Wilson stepped up on that drive Big Time. He made winning plays at a time when one mistake could have cost us the game. He got benched and did not pout he did what winners do. He took it like a Man. It was as ugly as I can remember a win being but it was time for UK to get one of those.

    7-1 with a chance to win the SEC East. Like them or not this coaching staff has EARNED our respect. They have accomplished things that have not been done in decades and have improved every year. I will not be surprised to see Stoops on the radar of other teams at the end of the season simply because it’s Kentucky and winning here in FB attracts a lot of attention. I can see Fla. St looking north if they have their first losing season in 41 years. Stoops and company has put UK FB back on the map even though they still get no respect from national media. KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK. GO BLUE OR STAY HOME.

    1. Actually they were sacked twice in that last drive. The first one pinned them back to their own 12- yard line. They were sacked again on the Mizzou 27 with 9 seconds left on the clock. The fact they won from that position is just crazy. I’m going with the “Missouri Miracle” on this.

  10. Pup…..i can’t agree with your feeling on Gran here. He was facing overwhelming public pressure to pass and also try someone else. 90% of the time he has been a disaster this year. You have to give some some credit to the staff and TW on last series. TW showed that he can execute better under some time constraints and was taking too much time getting rid of the ball earlier. Let’s hope this may just be a turning point for him.

  11. Passing game? We had 267 yard passing. TW completed 70 percent of his passes. Hoak was throwing high and skipping passes. It’s called “nerves.” It just takes time to get use to live fire in the SEC. I like Gunner and it isn’t fair to expect him to be a finished product. This was Terry’s 8th game in the SEC and he clearly is improving. He outplayed Lock thank you. Oh, and that Mizzou stopped Georgia a couple of times in short yardage, and I think Alabama once. I think Gran and Hinshaw (sp) are doing an outstanding job. If anyone has a complaint then I would respectfully suggest you direct it toward the head coach. When Gran was at Cincinnati he had a wide open offense and threw the ball all over the field. Wait, Neal Brown before him likes to have a wide open offense and throw the ball all over the field. I remember Stoops not being happy with so many passes, even if you score, because it keeps the defense on the field and wears them out. If the head coach says run it, run it, run it and you are the OC you better run it. I also strongly suspect the last drive was all Gran because they had to get down the field fast. He made those calls. I watched him do it at Cincinnati. We are lucky to have Gran. He’s not perfect but he continues to improve. I haven’t forgotten the work they put in on Johnson last year. Can we please ease up on “punching” anyone. Personally. I am going to enjoy this team as much as I can. I’m 76 and I’ve waited forever and a day to see a defense as good as this one. They’re a bunch of dogs that make me smile. I wish we had an offense to match our defense as much as anyone. I’m hopeful that this is the big step I was wanting Terry to be able to take. If it is, the Georgia game is going to be a barn burner. He seemed to thrive in the last, up temp series. Good blocking in pass protection from both AJ and Benny.

  12. KSR had a good, bad, ugly recap posted this afternoon, and they had Gran down on the Ugly section, and they couldn’t have been more correct. They gave him some cover on last series and cited him for no motion, trickery, or deception which has been his trademark all season. Anybody OTG and we are undefeated at this point in season. The best and easiest coach is all of D1 football is being an opposing DC and game planning for Gran!

    1. Some people are never happy about anything. UK is at it’s best since the 70’s and BTW Curci cheated to make that team as good as it was. The NCAA nailed him too.

      The play calling has NOT been bad this year. Running the ball to win is an age old way to do things. It allows the best players to win. Yes you have to mix some passing in. Let’s keep in mind that Wilson has not exactly been stellar until the last drive yesterday. He’s young and learning. The type of plays called for him have been correct. You don’t run complicated offensive sets if your QB isn’t making reads. You run simple stuff until he catches on with how to throw the ball to the open man.

      The plays called in that last drive were not conventional. The standard two minute drill involves throwing the ball to the sidelines so the receiver can get out of bounds. Defenses do not cover the middle nearly as much as a result. That is how Wilson was able to find open receivers in the middle of the field. That plus they just didn’t expect him to throw the ball as well as he did. The one screen pass was also out of the norm for a two minute offense. The play calling was excellent in that drive. They did the totally unexpected and made it work.

      For people to sit back and take pot shots at a team that is 7-1 and was very nearly 8-0 is just ridiculous. I don’t think you know much about the sport to be honest. Your comments don’t show that you do. You have to run plays that the players you have can run. I have seen one of the most intelligent offensive minds ever up close and personal. But he was totally unconventional and what he did would never be tolerated in the SEC. It was barely tolerated in high school. But the guy could draw up plays that worked and he could draw up a lot of them. It barely resembled football at all though. It was a desperation move at a high school with a reputation for losing. I’ve seen that guy draw up 100 plays one right after the next and they all worked. You can NOT do things like he did in college. You’d be laughed out of the game.

      I don’t know what you guys expect from an SEC school. You don’t win with trick plays. You make adjustments and you use the talent you have. And most fans do not understand football. And some people like to complain no matter what. It’s been going on a long time here by certain people. Just my opinion but good grief – LAY OFF.

      1. I know UK did wind up on probation for the 77 season, but I don’t believe the big shots ever really proved Curci cheated at recruiting did they, and I followed it closely? There was a lot of turmoil during his 74-76 years for sure. I have always believed the NCAA used UK as a scapegoat, nothing more. Like they do for certain schools and let others get a way with everything short of murder. That hurt the 77 squad unfairly. There were rumors of point shaving, and a murder investigation in that era 75-76 that got Sonny Collins’ named involved due to his association with a couple of bad characters, one a teammate. But if Curci cheated in recruiting what were the names of the recruits involved? It sure didn’t do him any good in the years that followed. For example he went 4-6-1 in 78, 5-6 in 79, and 3-8 in 80 and 81 Oh, in his last game he beat the ugly A$$ Orange too. Gov Happy Chandler wanted to retain Curci, but Hagan and the UK Board held court and fired him, much to the disappointment of many UK football fans. Basketball was the sacred cow in those days, and I don’t think football was given a fair shake in many ways by the administration. Curci sure didn’t think so either. Arguably Curci was the best football coach UK had had since the Bear, with the exception of Collier maybe. Curci’s 77 team will go down as the best UK football team ever in my mind. That team could play both offense and defense and championship quality football. Derrick Ramsey and Art Still were absolute beasts. The 77 CATS went into Athens, GA and beat the Dawgs 33-0. This current UK team is very good, but they have not finished it yet. They have much to prove before they reach the status of Curci’s team. Curci never recovered from the probation, and never got the UK brass behind him after that. After Claiborne retired, UK football went south quick until the last three years under Stoops.

  13. Jesus Christ guys let’s enjoy what this team has accomplished so far and quit being so negative regardless what this football team can do or not. Were in a position to make history with a chance at the SEC championship game.

    1. Easy with our Saviour’s name there Cats79.

  14. Loved it. Sat through decades of losses like this. The victory warmed my heart.

  15. The distance between Columbia and Danville is the longest 463 miles on earth. Especially on a Sunday morning driving into the sun. That said it was hell of a last minute drive out together by coaches Stoops and Grab AND executed by Terry Wilson. The consensus in our microgroup was that TW will be a great find going forward. As stated by the attending grandson he is a “cool dude”. 😎
    It was an amazing game. UK’s offense was flat for much of the first three quarters but the Mizzou defense had a little to do with that. They were jacked up and ready for the game. Gran’s adjustments were sufficient but a bit tardy for those with weak hearts. Throwing to the middle of the field during the drive was a genius decision. The Bouvier kid is still looking for his head but talk about tough !! Conrad did nothing more than continue the tradition set by Jacob Tamme for the position but he picked a great time for the heroics (and occurred right in front of our seats 😊) Could go on for several pages but suffice to say we picked a good one for our “away game” this season.
    One last item ! Last season we were ” duped by Stoops” but that didn’t work so the agenda has shifted to Coach Gran. Do you have a catchy slogan for your obsession yet couch coach Mikey ?

    1. PK…..glad I am never far from you mental challenges and nice to keep you on board. Gran continues to make Joker look awful good….don’t you think?

      1. Want to try that again genius ?
        The English language is a beautiful thing until you get hold of it or,,,,,,,drinking again ????
        You never answered the question couch coach. The reference to the “catchy slogan” ??

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