The game was a bit of a rock fight at the start. Auburn went into the half up just 8-7, but not without what was a messy, messy sequence to end the second quarter. Kentucky appeared to score on a play inside the 5-yard line. However, it wasn’t ruled a touchdown and even after a review, the call on the field stood. Then, Terry Wilson threw what looked like a pick six to Roger McCreary. However, a targeting penalty on Derick Hall wiped that pick six right off the board.
Things stayed tight in the third quarter, as Seth Williams and Akeem Hayes scored touchdowns for each of their teams. Auburn held a 15-13 lead heading into the fourth quarter, but broke free with another Seth Williams receiving touchdown to make it 22-13. Less than two minutes later, following a TOD by the Wildcats, Bo Nix found Eli Stove for a 21-yard score that wrapped things up nicely for the Tigers.
This game probably plays out a little differently if Kentucky is awarded the touchdown they should have received. With that being said, Auburn winning the turnover battle absolutely helped their cause. Kentucky didn’t force a single turnover while Auburn forced a fumble, recovered two and picked up an interception. The field position game was won by Auburn also, as they started drives on average on their 35-yard line, while Kentucky’s average field position was at their own 21-yard line.
Other than that, Kentucky did outpace Auburn in net total yards, net rushing yards, net passing yards, on 3rd down conversions, and time of possession. Auburn beat Kentucky on yards per play and did force two of those aforementioned turnovers on 3rd downs.
Auburn can certainly be impressed by the play of Bo Nix. He committed not a single turnover on the day and had a Y/A of 8.63 with 233 yards. Seth Williams had a standout day, as the stellar wideout had 112 yards on six catches with two scores. He was unsurprisingly targeted a team-high 12 times on the day. Nix also led the team in rushing yards with 34, as the team accumulated 91 yards on the ground.
Kentucky was able to cut up Auburn’s run defense, which was ironically completely opposite of what we talked about in the game preview:
Auburn probably has a much likelier chance of attacking Kentucky’s run defense versus UK’s ability to throw the football against Auburn’s pass D. But I’ve been wrong before.
UK picked up 145 yards, but did so on 40 carries. So while the net yards will look bad, they only let up 3.6 yards per carry. They simply couldn’t stop Kavosiey Smoke, who tore them up for 8.9 yards per carry. Given that, it’s interesting that he only had seven carries on the day, given he was the team’s most productive and efficient rusher. Asim Rose and Terry Wilson, meanwhile, had a combined 23 carries for a combined 73 yards, which is good for just 3.17 YPC.
Wilson collected 239 passing yards through the air on a mark of 24-for-37. He had one touchdown pass to Hayes, and the one interception to McCreary. He had a Y/A of 6.46, so a pass defense that struggled a little bit last year in Auburn’s has to feel good about themselves for holding Wilson down like that. They’ll face stronger competition as the season goes on, but this will be a confidence-booster.