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The Good, The Bad & The Ugly: Kentucky-Austin Peay Edition

In this edition of All Wildcats' "The Good, The Bad & The Ugly," we take a closer look at some of the highs and lows from Kentucky's 49-13 victory over Austin Peay on Saturday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

1. THE GOOD

Six: It's The Magic Number ... Those old Saturday morning cartoon shorts used to convince a generation of kids that three was a magic number, but everyone who follows college football knows that six is the real deal. That's especially true when you're a program like Kentucky trying to build something in the rugged SEC. For the first time since the 2010 season, the Wildcats will be going to a bowl game after securing what had been an incredibly elusive sixth victory in each of the two previous seasons. The Cats finished both 2014 and 2015 with five wins, losing to arch-rival Louisville in the season finale with a bowl bid on the line. They won't have that weight on their shoulders when they go into Papa John's Cardinal Stadium next weekend. Their only concern now is figuring out a way to slow down Heisman Trophy favorite Lamar Jackson and snapping a five-game losing skid to the Cards.

Extra Practice Time ... Reaching a bowl game not only means an extra opportunity for fans to see the Cats play this season, but also means an extra month of development for players in the program. Every coach will tell you it's invaluable to building and sustaining a program. Don't get caught up in worrying about where UK will be headed for its bowl game. Ultimately, it doesn't matter. The bottom line is that the Cats will be getting better for 2017 and beyond. Perhaps a more attractive bowl will come in the future as a result of this process.

Senior Smiles ... Senior Day was a bit of a letdown when it came to playing an outmatched opponent on a frigid day in Lexington, but that couldn't dampen the Cats' spirits after securing bowl eligibility. A joyous mix of smiles and tears could be seen popping in and out of the locker room as seniors like Jon Toth, Jojo Kemp, Ryan Timmons, J.D. Harmon, Blake McClain and Marcus McWilson finally saw the fruit from more than four years of hard labor. To the average fan, this game meant nothing -- as evidenced by the estimated 30,000 who showed up at half-full Commonwealth Stadium -- but to the players, it meant everything. 

Move Over Moe ... Our weekly Benny Snell shout-out includes a record-setting performance as the Ohio native broke Moe Williams' standard for most rushing yards in a season by a UK freshman. Snell now has 1,006 rushing yards on the season. He and junior running back Boom Williams (1,072 yards) are now the first teammates in school history to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in the same season. Snell shrugged it all off, giving all of the credit to his offensive line: "I'm happy. It's a good thing, but it's the O-Line. The O-Line is amazing."

2. THE BAD

Cats Slow Out of The Gates ... A casual observer who just saw the score and did not see the entire game may be shocked to learn that UK actually trailed its FCS opponent for all but three minutes and 37 seconds in the first half. Austin Peay actually held the ball for a whopping 11:32 in the first quarter. It's a bit concerning that the Cats still haven't quite gotten to the point where every opponent is taken seriously, especially with so much hanging in the balance Saturday, but it is a challenge to reach an emotional high 12 times a year. We'll cut them a bit of slack after they responded with 49 unanswered points after digging a 13-0 hole. 

Holes in The Rushing Defense ... The Cats clamped down on Austin Peay's scoring after the sluggish start, but the Governors still managed to rush for 274 yards on the night even though they had no passing threat whatsoever. That's a bit alarming when UK must now prepare for Jackson and a UofL rushing offense that ranks No. 12 nationally at 256.4 yards per game. The Cards' offensive line looked beyond poor in their 36-10 upset loss at Houston, so if they're getting a push early against UK's defensive line, that's a really bad sign.

Butterfingers Continue ... Wide receivers Jeff Badet and Dorian Baker each had key drops in the game, continuing a trend that has hurt UK in the second half of the season. Almost in an instant replay from the Georgia game, Badet dropped a perfect deep ball from Stephen Johnson that would have been a touchdown. To his credit, though, he bounced back and made an even tougher catch on a deep ball later in the game. But that might not be an opportunity that presents itself more than once next week against Louisville. 

3. THE UGLY

Yellow Hankies ... Kentucky has been a fairly disciplined football team all season long, ranking second only to Auburn as the SEC's least-penalized team. But the Cats hurt themselves during the rough first half with eight penalties for 80 yards. The "hidden yards" were much larger as a pair of holding calls wiped out a 94-yard touchdown run by Boom Williams and a 7-yard touchdown run by Jojo Kemp. Kentucky can't afford mistakes like those if it hopes to upset Louisville and reclaim the Governor's Cup trophy next week. 


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