In the final analysis of the regular season play of the Kentucky Wildcats several games stand out.
The win over the Auburn Tigers in Auburn, when a stellar Kentucky defensive effort held the Tigers scoreless in the second half, and Locke and Cobb led the Wildcats to two fourth quarter touchdowns to first tie the score and 14, then took a 21-14 lead in the closing minutes to pull off the come from behind win. It was Kentucky's first win at Auburn since 1966.
The win in the next to last weekend of the season in Athens was Kentucky's first win at Georgia since 1977. It too came in come from behind fashion. Kentucky looked to be down and out at the half, 20-6. The Wildcats rallied and outscored the home standing Bulldogs 28-7 in the second half to come away with the 34-27 win.
Those will be memorable wins that Kentucky fans will savor for years to come.
Those wins, however, are offset by three disappointing losses.
The loss to South Carolina was two-fold. Kentucky lost the game, but also essentially lost its starting quarterback for the season. Kentucky led 17-14 at the half, Mike Hartline went down with a knee injury in the third quarter. The Wildcats fell behind that same quarter. The Wildcats had an opportunity to tie the game with just over four minutes remaining, but Randall Cobb's pass play on the two-point conversion failed to give the Wildcats the two points then needed. The Wildcats lost 28-26.
The Kentucky game against Mississippi State in Lexington was like a replay of the 2007 nightmare, with the same outcome. Kentucky, playing the part of the favored home team, came out flat, but still took a 17-10 lead to the lockerroom. Mississippi State proceeded to score three touchdowns in the third quarter, while giving up a single TD to the favored home team to come away with the 31-24 upset.
Then there was the come from ahead loss against Tennessee Saturday.
Two great wins, three losses that could have easily been wins. Had Kentucky taken care of business in those three games, three games in which they led then lost, they would have finished second in the SEC East.
In order to take that next step up the ladder of respectability in the SEC, and on the national scene Kentucky, needs to win more than its share of the games it lost against South Carolina, Mississippi State and Tennessee.
UK football fans left asking, "What if...?"
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