UK Football

Blue Review: Instant analysis from Kentucky’s football win over Mississippi State

Stay the course: UK's McWilson talks about team's growth

UK safety Marcus McWilson talks about being tackled by Coach Mark Stoops after his interception return for a touchdown in the Cats' win over Mississippi State.
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UK safety Marcus McWilson talks about being tackled by Coach Mark Stoops after his interception return for a touchdown in the Cats' win over Mississippi State.

Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 40-38 win over Mississippi State:

How the game was won

Austin MacGinnis kicked a 51-yard field goal on the game’s final play to give Kentucky one of the most thrilling wins in its recent football history,

Game balls

1. Austin MacGinnis. The UK place-kicker came up stone-cold clutch when it mattered most.

2. Mark Stoops. The Kentucky coach has now won three SEC “must-win” games. The Cats are very close now to digging out of an early-season hole created by a come-from-ahead loss to Southern Mississippi.

3. Stephen Johnson II. After his fumbles and an ill-timed illegal procedure penalty had the UK QB set up to be the game’s goat, he drove the Wildcats into position for MacGinnis to win it.

4. Jeff Badet and Ryan Timmons. Veteran Kentucky wide-outs Badet (seven catches, 139 yards, two TDs) and Timmons (three catches for 77 yards) stepped up when Kentucky needed them.

5. Marcus McWilson. The Kentucky senior free safety had taken more than his share of criticism in 2016 but he came up big against Mississippi State — five tackles, a tackle for loss and the game-clinching pick-six.

Running gassers

1. Dan Mullen. After seven straight wins over Kentucky, it turned out the MSU head man was not invincible vs. the Wildcats after all.

2. Mississippi State defense. Hard to win SEC road games when you surrender 554 yards.

3. Stephen Johnson II. The lost fumbles (two more Saturday night) for the UK starting QB are a problem that can’t seem to get fixed.

Key number(s)

7-1. Kentucky’s victory over Mississippi State was the first win for an SEC East team over a West foe this season in eight games.

Fashion police

For its seventh game, Kentucky wore silver chrome helmets, anthracite jerseys with white numbers and letters and anthracite pants.

Up next

Kentucky (4-3, 3-2 SEC) will travel to Missouri (2-5, 0-3) Saturday at noon for a game telecast on the SEC Network. The Tigers lost at home to Middle Tennessee State 51-45 Saturday.

Know your foe

1. Since Missouri joined the SEC in 2012, Kentucky is 0-2 vs. the Tigers in Columbia. UK lost 33-10 at Mizzou in 2012 under Joker Phillips, then fell 20-10 in Mark Stoops’ first trip to Faurot Field. The Cats have won at Missouri in their history, scoring a 7-0 victory for Coach Charlie Bradshaw in the 1965 season opener.

2. Since Gary Pinkel stepped down last season, Missouri is now coached by Barry Odom, 39, a former Mizzou linebacker (1996-99) and last season’s Tigers defensive coordinator. Prior to the 2015 season, Odom spent three seasons (2012-14) as defensive coordinator at Memphis.

3. In spite of Odom’s defensive background, Missouri ranked third in the SEC in total offense (484.3 yards a game) but 13th in total defense (allowing 438 yards) going into the Middle Tennessee State contest. Mizzou’s offensive stats are warped by the 698 yards the Tigers gained in a 79-0 demolition of FCS foe Delaware State Sept. 24.

UK kicker Austin MacGinnis talks about the kick that lifted Kentucky to a 40-38 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night.

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