The seventeenth-ranked Kentucky Wildcats defeated South Carolina 24-10 to improve to 5-0 and 3-0 in SEC play.
Since World War II the Kentucky football team has been 5-0 only five times. The Cats are 3-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1977. Mark Stoops’ team reached these milestones with a two-touchdown win, but it wasn’t enough to create another chaotic postgame scene in the locker room.
“It’s routine now,” Stoops said. “We didn’t even dance or celebrate at all. We just kind of, all right, that’s a good job. We expect to play that way.”
Kentucky held South Carolina to just ten points and 321 total yards. UK’s first three SEC opponents have scored only 33 points, the fewest since 1977. Still, tonight’s performance did not meet the Cats’ expectations.
“We celebrated,” said Derrick Baity, “but I feel like it wasn’t like usual because we didn’t play up to our standard. Coming out (in the second half), we didn’t move the ball on offense. We were on the field for like ten minutes. That’s just not our standard. It was a little frustrating for the team, but we got a team win and that’s all that matters at the end of the day.”
The defense did its job. In every win this year Kentucky has limited their opponent to less than 360 yards (something that hasn’t been done in 31 years). However, the offense did not do its job in the second half.
After rushing for 168 yards in the first half, Kentucky’s ground game only picked up 27 more in the second half. The Cats could not consistently move the ball, but they did enough to grind away the game. C.J. Conrad, who caught three passes for a team-high 31 yards, knows there’s still plenty of room for improvement.
“I feel like we haven’t played our best football yet. The defense is playing unbelievable, but offensively there’s so much more out there for us,” Conrad said. “It’s an amazing feeling to be 5-0 and 3-0 in the SEC, but our best football is ahead of us.”
Once Kentucky puts all of the pieces together, as Derrick Baity said, the sky is the limit.
“I think we all feel a little like we left a lot out there,” Stoops said. “We expect to play better and there’s a lot of things we can do better and will. We’re always striving for that perfect game.”