A competitive game in Lexington held the eyeballs of those watching No. 1 Mississippi State versus unranked Kentucky on Saturday. Mississippi State held the lead throughout the game, but UK kept things interesting until late in the fourth quarter. MSU answered every punch with their own counterstrike, and several of the Bulldogs' players put up the kind of numbers required for postseason recognition. UK had strong individual performances, but ultimately not enough to cause tremors in the college football landscape.
Mississippi State ran for 326 rushing yards against UK's defense, and that number largely falls on the shoulders of Josh Robinson, who averaged 6.4 yards per carry, and over 200 total yards this afternoon. MSU picked up some balance by throwing for 216 yards, as Dak Prescott targeted several different Bulldog receivers throughout the game. Late in the fourth quarter, UK attempted an on-side kick, and MSU returned it 61 yards to seal the Wildcats' fate.
Kentucky looked better offensively than it had the previous week against LSU. Quarterback Patrick Towles went for 475 total yards and four touchdowns. 380 of those yards came in the air, while 84 were on the ground. If Towles hadn't been sacked six times by a strong MSU pass rush, that rushing number would've easily gone over 100 yards. Encouraging for UK partisans: the offensive lessons learned facing LSU's defense seem to have been incorporated. UK blocked better on the perimeter, and the passing game was much more effective. Kentucky's defense, on the other hand, tackled the worst it had all season. Not good timing when facing Robinson and the top-ranked team in the country.
Both teams can take positives from this game. UK has had a penchant for explosive plays all year, and had eight today against a tough defense after looking impotent against LSU. Mississippi State, though, can still brag that it won despite facing a bevy of adversity Saturday. That's the mark of a team that has the make-up to win some tough battles ahead.