Kentucky's defense did a solid job, holding Clemson (9-5) to 321 yards during the game. The Wildcats offense, as anemic as it has been, could only muster 277 yards. Still, Kentucky averaged 4.1 yards per play on the evening and dominated time of possession 34:26 to 25:34. But Clemson's big plays negated that time of possession.
Backup running back Jamie Harper carried the ball only eight times, but picked up 79 yards for an average of 9.9 yards per carry. Kyle Parker completed only eight of fourteen passes, but he averaged 10 yards per attempt and a blistering 17.6 yards per completion. C.J. Spiller, the Clemson star player had only 20 yards (nine carries) going into the fourth quarter, but finished the game with 67 yards on 15 carries. Spiller averaged 7.8 yards per carry in the fourth quarter.
That was in sharp contrast to the Wildcats' performance last night.
Kentucky has been mostly a methodical running team all season, with the explosive play here and there from their stars, Derrick Locke and Randall Cobb, but neither Cobb or Locke could make the plays they normally make.
"They did a good job against our Wildcat," said Rich Brooks. "They had enough time to prepare for it, and they were able to take away the things that we had been hurting other teams with," he said.
Kentucky normally uses the Wildcat offense as a change of pace for the defense to adjust to, but Kentucky's base offense could never get going. Morgan Newton finished only 13 of 23 for 98 yards and a Kentucky's lone touchdown pass on the night. Derrick Locke rushed for 64 yards on 18 carries and lead the Wildcats in receiving with six catches and 30 yards. Randall Cobb could only manage 36 yards on his 10 carries and caught two passes for 20 yards. Cobb also completed two passes for 12 yards on the night.
"The frustrating thing to me is when we got possession at midfield, we were three-and-out," Brooks said. "We get down to the 35 and we couldn't finish that drive. We squandered opportunities to get points," he said.
The Wildcats inability to sustain drives was hurt by the lack of big plays. Kentucky had only one offensive play over 20 yards. Morgan Newton scrambled 24 yards in the first quarter to get a Wildcat first down.
Still the Wildcats were in the game until the very end. Going into the fourth quarter, Clemson held onto a one point lead at 14-13. Spiller ran in from eight yards out to stretch the lead back to 21-13.
Kentucky's last opportunity came when Ryan Tydlacka converted a fake punt on fourth and thre at the Clemson 43 yard line. Kentucky was unable to come up with the first down on the next set of downs, however, when Newton's fourth down run was a yard short of the nine yards needed.
With only five minutes to go, Clemson was able to run out the clock and begin their celebration. On the Kentucky sideline, the feeling was quite different.
"It's an extremely disappointing loss," said Brooks.
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