Sidelines with John Clay

Kentucky football ends Dan Mullen’s mastery, and more Big Blue Links

The Big Blue Nation turned out at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, October 22, 2016 to watch Kentucky beat Mississippi State 40-38 on a last-second field goal.
The Big Blue Nation turned out at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday, October 22, 2016 to watch Kentucky beat Mississippi State 40-38 on a last-second field goal. Lexington Herald-Leader

Big Blue Links for Sunday:

Kentucky halted a seven-game losing streak to Mississippi State. Jennifer Smith of the Herald-Leader reports, “Kentucky, which has won four of its last five games, earned its third Southeastern Conference victory for the first time since 2009. The Cats are 3-2 in league play for the first time since 1999. But the win wasn’t without its challenges, including two fumbles by Johnson that led to Mississippi State points. Opponents now have scored 83 points off of Cats miscues this season. “

Austin MacGinnis gets pure joy from game-winning field goal. Mark Story of the Herald-Leader writes, “On the Commonwealth Stadium sideline, Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson II was engaged in a heated internal debate. Could his nerves handle watching Austin MacGinnis try a 51-yard field goal with three seconds left and UK trailing Mississippi State 38-37 or not?”

Kentucky football finds a dramatic way to stay on winning track. I write in my column, “Not to be too dramatic, but you could make the case that the Cats also saved their season given the razor-thin margin of error Stoops’ team appears to have on its path to a sought-after postseason game.”

Kentucky stuns Mississippi State. Michael Bonner of the Clarion-Ledger reports, “Dan Mullen emerged from the tunnel in the north tunnel of Commonwealth Stadium two hours prior to kickoff. The coach inspected the facility trying to decipher the updates from the last time Mississippi State played in it. But he soon realized his mind held only one memory from the previous trips.”

Rick Pitino claims dominion, except when scandal hits. Marc Tracy of the New York Times writes, “Yet it is Pitino’s position — as well as that of the University of Louisville, where he enters his 16th season as coach — that he was not and should not be blamed for having been unaware that one of his staff members was spending thousands of dollars on stripteases and sex for more than a dozen Cardinals recruits and players over more than three years in a campus dormitory named for Pitino’s late and beloved brother-in-law.”

Louisville should let Pitino face suspension. Mark Story writes, “Watching the live stream Thursday as the University of Louisville reacted to the NCAA notice of allegations that alleges U of L committed four level-one rules infractions relating to the school’s ‘escorts in the basketball dorm’ scandal, one thing struck me as funny. “

Alabama has momentum heading into November. Cecil Hurt of the Tuscaloosa News writes, “In a violent game, one with huge hits and defensive big plays of Texan proportion, Texas A&M saw its best chance -- a slender one, perhaps, but a real one -- slip away on the slightest of shoves. The Aggies survived a first-half onslaught from Alabama that threatened to wash them right out of Bryant-Denny Stadium.”

Alabama shows why it’s a juggernaut. Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports writes, “This is the biggest reason why Alabama is an unceasing, unrelenting juggernaut: the talent is stockpiled so deeply that players who would be cornerstone recruits elsewhere are role players waiting their turn in Tuscaloosa. That depth will get a significant test after the only negative of the day for the Tide: All-American safety and deadly kick returner Eddie Jackson broke his leg against the Aggies and is lost for the season. But here’s what the Tide has behind Jackson at safety: junior Hootie Jones, a former four-star recruit who has yet to start a game at Alabama.”

Missouri stunned by Middle Tennessee. Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star writes, “Herbert Hoover was president the last time Missouri gave up more points against a nonconference opponent at home than it did in Saturday’s 51-45 loss against Middle Tennessee. But this one — a homecoming loss against a Conference USA foe witnessed by 52,351 at Memorial Stadium — seems more humiliating than the Tigers’ 65-0 loss against Texas on Oct. 8, 1932. “

Auburn’s Kamryn Pettway demoralizes Arkansas. Michael Niziolek of the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer reports, “Auburn running back Kamryn Pettway’s final carry in a 56-3 win over Arkansas Saturday night was a 23-yard run around his right tackle to the end zone. Pettway did a quick little stutter step at the line of scrimmage before bouncing the run outside. The carry earned an approving nod from the standard-bearer of Tigers’ running backs Bo Jackson. “

LSU’s Ed Orgeron gets a satisfying win. Scott Rabalais of The Advocate in Baton Rouge reports, “Orgeron continued to downplay what the Ole Miss game meant to him personally, having coached the Rebels for three struggling years from 2005-07. “Absolutely zero,” he insisted when asked about his feelings in beating the school that once cast him aside. ‘I love being a Tiger.’ If Coach O is unwilling to relive the past, it’s understandable since his future is such a pertinent topic.”

SEC football standings

East

SEC

Overall

Florida

3-1

5-1

Kentucky

3-2

4-3

Tennessee

2-2

5-2

Georgia

2-3

4-3

Vanderbilt

1-3

4-4

South Carolina

1-4

3-4

Missouri

0-3

2-5

West

SEC

Overall

Alabama

5-0

8-0

Texas A&M

4-1

6-1

Auburn

3-1

5-2

LSU

3-1

5-2

Arkansas

1-3

5-3

Ole Miss

1-3

3-4

Miss State

1-3

2-5

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