Sometimes big events end not with a bang, but a whimper. Last night’s UK-South Carolina game got the masses hyped and ready for a big event that would be an exciting step in the continued upward mobility of Kentucky football. Instead, we were treated to a poor performance that left most wondering what might have been. On our pregame show last night, I said that the two most important parts of the game in my view would be the turnover battle and the performance of Rafeal Little. Both ended up being somewhat disappointing and unfortunately, related. Kentucky had four turnovers, all of which were debilitating. Two fumbles lost that were run back for touchdowns….one Andre Woodson interception that could have been called before the ball even left his hand and a Rafeal Little punt drop that was so uncharacteristic that even Rich Brooks look surprised. Add to that a Little fumble that he recovered when he would have walked into the end zone, and the turnovers literally cost the Wildcats 25 points along the way…..more than enough to have taken the victory.
It does say something about how far this team has come that we look at such performances, call them uncharacteristic and wonder aloud what would have happened had the mistakes been avoided. However it doesnt make the loss any easier. The Kentucky defense was stellar last night and put up a performance worthy of a win on the road in the SEC. But the Kentucky offense, including its most talented players threw up a clunker and missed opportunity after opportunity to help get another signature win. There are some unfortunate results due to this loss. The Andre Woodson for Heisman campaign has hit a big road bump that will be somewhat difficult to overcome. The Cats’ national prestige has taken a hit that likely will only be remedied by a win over LSU or Florida. And the Cats chances to win the SEC East have grown much dimmer, requiring a win over Florida and Georgia…..while also getting some help from teams playing the Gamecocks.
All is not lost however…..there is still time to regroup and make a magical season…..and even if that doesnt happen, an 8-4 type record is certainly within UK’s grasp. But the game last night could have been big and one cant help but think that UK truly let a golden opportunity slip away.