UK Football

Blue Review: Instant analysis from Kentucky’s football win over Austin Peay

Instant analysis from Kentucky’s 49-13 win over Austin Peay:

How the game was won

After sitting out the first quarter due to a knee injury, Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson entered the game with UK down two touchdowns and rallied the Cats to the victory that made them bowl-eligible for the first time since 2010.

Game balls

1. Stephen Johnson. The junior-college transfer quarterback saved Kentucky’s season when he stepped in successfully for an injured Drew Barker in the third game with the Cats 0-2. So it was fitting he did the same thing (5-of-9 passing for 101 yards and two touchdowns, all in the second quarter) with the Wildcats down 13-0 in the game UK needed to win to go bowling.

2. Benny Snell. The Kentucky true freshman ran for 152 yards and two touchdowns and went over 1,000 yards (1,006) for the season. Along with junior Boom Williams (1,072), Snell gave UK two 1,000-yards plus rushers in the same season for the first time in school history.

3. Blake McClain and Marcus McWilson. The Kentucky senior defensive backs went out in style in their final game in Commonwealth Stadium with seven tackles apiece.

4. Mark Stoops. To get Kentucky bowl-eligible after the rampant negativity that accompanied UK’s 0-2 start to this season is a considerable coaching achievement.

Running gassers

1. Mark Stoops. While it is understandable why the Kentucky brain trust would have wanted to protect Johnson and his knee for next week’s season-ending brawl with Louisville, starting a walk-on QB seemed to contribute to the flat start that left the Cats behind by double-digits to an Austin Peay team that has not won a game since 2014.

2. Austin Peay football program. Has now lost 27 in a row, though in freshmen playmakers JaVaughn Craig (quarterback) and Kentel Williams the Governors appear to have some blocks to build upon.

Key number(s)

1 in 10. Austin Peay was the 10th game (six in 2014, one last season, three this year) Mark Stoops has coached at Kentucky in which a Wildcats victory would have made UK bowl-eligible. It was the first of those 10 games Kentucky won.

Fashion police

For its final home game of 2016, Kentucky wore blue matte helmets, blue jerseys with white letters and numbers and white pants. UK is now 3-2 this season in blue jerseys.

Next up

Kentucky (6-5, 4-4 SEC) will travel west on I-64 to face archrival Louisville (9-2, 7-1 ACC) at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in a game whose time and TV channel have yet to be announced. The Cardinals lost 36-10 at Houston on Thursday night.

Know your foe

1. Kentucky has lost five straight to Louisville and trails in the modern Governor’s Cup rivalry (since 1994) 14-8. The all-time series between the Cats and Cards is tied 14-14.

2. Over its last eight games against in-state foes, Kentucky is 1-7 (0-5 vs. U of L; 0-2 vs. Western Kentucky) with the sole victory last season’s 34-27 overtime win over FCS foe Eastern Kentucky.

3. The dynamic ability that has made Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson the 2016 Heisman Trophy favorite was shown emphatically in last season’s UK-U of L game. Coming off the bench with Louisville down 21-0, Jackson sliced and diced the Kentucky defense with his legs (186 yards rushing, two touchdowns) and his arm (130 yards passing, one TD) to lead an epic rally for a 38-24 Cardinals victory.

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