Kentucky Fights Back to Drop South Carolina… and the Rebuilding Label

It’s time to retire the “rebuilding” label that everyone wants to attach to Kentucky football. With the way the Wildcats fought back against South Carolina on Saturday night, “bowl-bound team” is a more accurate description.

Make no mistake about it: UK beat a very good football team. After all, the Gamecocks have already defeated two ranked teams this season (Georgia and East Carolina), and were literally one foot away from beating another (Missouri).

Of course, after this weekend’s contest, that statement might read, “South Carolina lost two games to ranked teams in the fourth quarter.”

Yes, you read that right, the Wildcats belong in the top 25 in football.

The victory over USC demonstrates exactly why. Despite falling behind 14-0 early in the second quarter, the Wildcats managed to rally to tie up the game by halftime. They also erased a two-touchdown deficit in the second half, finding the end zone three times in the final 8:48 of the contest.

Call me crazy, but that sounds an awful lot like Coach Cal’s Cats on the hardwood.

What was most impressive about Kentucky’s comeback was that it was literally a team effort. Once the Gamecocks took the early lead, it was the precision passing of Patrick Towles (9-for-14, 101 yards in the second quarter) that got the Wildcats back into the game. In the fourth quarter, Jojo Kemp took over the contest, running 14 times for 117 yards and two touchdowns.

As well as the offense played, it was the Kentucky defense that made the difference in this contest. Sure, it struggled against the run and allowed over 500 yards of offense. However, it did produce three interceptions, including Alvin Dupree’s game-winning pick six, and a nice grab by Ashley Lowery that allowed the Wildcats to run out the clock.

That’s the stuff championship teams are made of.

Does this mean that the Wildcats are going to win the SEC East? It’s tough to say at this point. Even if UK were to win out, it still needs Florida to lose one more time in order to win the division. This doesn’t even touch on what will happen next week with Georgia and Missouri.

However, the fact that we’re even talking about Kentucky football in this context on the first weekend of October speaks volumes about how much the team has improved under the leadership of Mark Stoops. At the rate the team is progressing, don’t be surprised if the Wildcats upset a ranked team before the year is out.

About Terry P. Johnson

Terry Johnson is the Associate Editor for The Student Section. He is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and the National Football Foundation.