Bowl eligibility. Kentucky fans had expected at the beginning of the season to know well before November 23rd that the Wildcats would have the required 6 wins to qualify for a post-season bowl game. But here we are at 5-5 with only 2 games remaining on the regular-season slate. A victory of UT-Martin was necessary as a win in the season finale versus bitter rival Louisville would be guaranteed.
And thankfully, the opponent was a non-conference, non-rival foe. This was the kind of afternoon/evening that lends itself to less-than-stellar football and in the opening minutes, that’s exactly what we got. In less than 5 minutes of play, the Skyhawks had 2 bad snaps that ended up in their own end zone. The first time, quarterback John Bachus scooped up the ball and made a pass, but that was ruled intentional grounding and resulted in a safety for the Cats and a 2-0 lead.
Kentucky then went 3 and out on their first possession and beautiful Max Duffy punt left UT-Martin pinned near their own end zone again. For the 2nd time, a bad snap got loose, but inexplicably, Bachus did nothing as the ball rolled near him. Had he fallen on it or simply kicked it out of bounds, it would have been another safety for the Cats. Instead, the Cats fell on the ball and scored a touchdown, extending their lead to 9-0.
It was almost too easy for Stoops’ team after that as they seemingly ran the ball at will. The Cats set a single-game record for rushing yards with 462 (the previous record was 446) and may have set a record low for passing yards with 17. Even when the Cats went to 3rd and 4th options on the depth chart, they continued to score and when the dust settled, it was 50-7.
So Kentucky took care of business and have secured bowl eligibility. They kept their players reasonably healthy heading into next week’s showdown with Louisville. UK played a very clean game (2 penalties totaling 25 yards) and they got a lot of repetitions for a lot of players. On a cold, damp night like this, it’s about the best anyone could ask for.