Mark Story

Instant Analysis: Who’s up, who’s down after UK’s 27-24 Citrus Bowl win over Penn State

Kentucky football’s Cat Walk before the Citrus Bowl in Orlando

Kentucky arrives for the VRBO Citrus Bowl against Penn State at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2019.
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Kentucky arrives for the VRBO Citrus Bowl against Penn State at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fla., on Jan. 1, 2019.

Instant analysis from No. 14 Kentucky’s 27-24 win over No. 12 Penn State:

How the game was won

Benny Snell ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns and Josh Allen sacked Penn State quarterback Trace McSorley three times and blocked a field goal as Kentucky held off a determined Penn State rally to record its 10th win of the season.

Game balls

1. Josh Allen. Cemented his standing in UK football lore with one more stellar performance.

2. Benny Snell. Ran his way past Sonny Collins into the UK record book.

3. UK special teams. A blocked field goal, a punt-return touchdown and some stellar Max Duffy punting were a big part of Kentucky’s win.

4. Terry Wilson. The resume of the first-year Kentucky starting QB is going to look pretty stellar in the Wildcats record books.

5. Boogie Watson. Forcing Penn State to kick a field goal on its final drive by knocking down that Trace McSorley pass is one of the biggest plays in Kentucky football history.

6. Eddie Gran. Got a lot smarter after halftime, didn’t he?

7. Mark Stoops. A 10-win season, a New Year’s Day bowl win and a victory over an old-line football power like Penn State. Pretty good day for the UK head coach.

8. Trace McSorley. Penn State quarterback is an absolute gamer.

Kentucky defeated Penn State 27-24 in the VRBO Citrus Bowl on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Fla.

Running gassers

1. No one is running gassers.

Key number(s)

Seven. Of Kentucky’s 10 wins in the 2018 season, seven came over teams that played in bowl games: Florida, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, Missouri, Middle Tennessee State, Penn State.

Fashion police

For the VRBO Citrus Bowl, Kentucky wore silver chrome helmets, white jerseys with blue numbers and letters and white pants. In both of UK’s prior two bowls, the 2016 TaxSlayer vs. Georgia Tech and last season’s Music City against Northwestern, UK wore blue helmets — and lost.

After his team's 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl on Jan. 1, 2019, in Orlando, Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops was asked which of his stars will he miss most -- Benny Snell or Josh Allen? UK finished the season 10-3.

The Cat-mosphere

In a crowd of 59,167, Kentucky fans appeared to have a slight advantage over Penn State backers in the stands.


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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.