Mark Stoops on much-needed win
Instant analysis from Kentucky's 58-10 win over Charlotte:
HOW THE GAME WAS WON
In Drew Barker’s first college start, UK rode an overpowering running game and a rugged defense to victory.
1. Drew Barker. In his first college start, the Kentucky quarterback did nothing spectacular (16-of-29 passing for 129 yards) but turned in a clean, efficient performance — and won the game.
2. UK running game. Jojo Kemp ran tough; Boom Williams showed some explosion; Mikel Horton provided some change-of-pace yards; fourth-stringer Sihiem King even added a 62-yard touchdown.
3. Kentucky special teams. After the meltdown at Vanderbilt, UK kicking teams looked eminently competent.
4. Cats defense. Did what an SEC “D” should do against a third-year football program — dominated.
5. Mark Stoops. Sure, this was only a victory over a football program that had never before faced a Power Five conference foe — but losing would have been disastrous. As bad as Kentucky has looked the second half of this season (before Charlotte), the Cats (5-6) will enter their final game alive for bowl eligibility.
6. Wildcats fans. Take the chilly, blustery weather; add the five-game losing streak UK entered the game with; and factor in the lack of a marquee foe. Given all that, there were a lot more people in Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday night than I expected. Well, until the snow started falling at halftime.
1. Kentucky pass protection. Charlotte recorded only two sacks, but Drew Barker found himself forced to scramble too much — especially against a team that now owns a nine-game losing streak.
6-of-12. In the decisive first half, Kentucky converted half of its third-down tries — four on Drew Barker pass completions.
For its penultimate regular-season game of 2015, Kentucky went old school — blue helmets, blue jerseys, white pants.
Kentucky will face archrival Louisville (6-5) on Nov. 28 at noon in Commonwealth Stadium on the SEC Network. The Cardinals lost to Pittsburgh 45-34 Saturday.
KNOW YOUR FOE
1. After starting 0-3 in 2015, Bobby Petrino’s Cardinals have won six of their last eight. However, North Carolina State (7-4) is the only FBS team with a winning record Louisville has beaten in 2015.
2. A year ago in the Governor’s Cup rivalry, Lexington Catholic product Kyle Bolin came off the bench to replace an injured Reggie Bonnafon at quarterback for Louisville and threw for 381 yards and three touchdowns to lead U of L to a 44-40 comeback victory over his hometown school.
3. By losing seven in a row to Mississippi State, Kentucky has lost the all-time series lead to MSU and trails 22-21. By losing four of the last five to Vanderbilt, UK has lost the all-time series lead and is now tied 42-42-4. If the Cats lose to the Cards for a fifth straight time, the all-time record between UK and U of L will stand 14-14.
In the modern era (since 1994), Louisville leads the series with Kentucky 13-8.