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Mississippi State Flashback: The kick that saved Stoops’ job


Saturday’s game vs. Mississippi State is big for Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Football program, but for Stoops, no game may ever be bigger than the one vs. the Bulldogs in 2016. At SEC Media Days in July, ESPN’s Marty Smith revealed that Stoops told him he knew he had to win that game or he’d be fired.

He told us, he knew either, ‘I’m winning or I’m fired,’Smith said on The Paul Finebaum Show. “He knew it. ‘I’m winning or I’m fired.’”

Since then, Kentucky’s gone to back-to-back bowls and Mississippi State’s currently in the top 15 despite having a brand new coach; to fully appreciate how far both programs have come, let’s look back on that fateful night in October, specifically, the kick that saved Stoops’ job.

Kentucky hosted SEC Nation

SEC Nation was in town for the game, and Finebaum recalled how anxious Stoops seemed on set.

“We were up there that weekend and he came by the show. I’m not going to use any cliches about how tight he was, but he was like sweating the day before because you couldn’t avoid the subject. He barely won that game.”

Boom and Benny were huge

Mississippi State fans like to mock the fact that Benny only had 18 yards in last year’s game at Starkville, but in his first outing vs. the Bulldogs, he had 128 yards and a touchdown to go along with Boom Williams’ 99 yards. Benny won SEC Freshman of the Week for his efforts, a sign of things to come.

Marcus McWilson’s Pick Six was huge

One of the biggest plays of the game came when Marcus McWilson picked off Nick Fitzgerald’s pass and ran it back for a touchdown, increasing Kentucky’s lead to ten heading into the fourth quarter. It happened right after an impassioned speech by Stoops on the sidelines:

Stoops was so happy with McWilson he tackled him to the ground:

A 51-yard kick as time expires

Kentucky was in a good situation after the pick six, but a pair of mistakes by Stephen Johnson put the game in peril. On 2nd and goal, Johnson fumbled the ball and it was returned by the Bulldogs for a touchdown. On first and goal on the next drive, Johnson false started and the Cats had to settle for a field goal.

Over the next five and a half minutes, Mississippi State marched down the field and scored a touchdown to go up by one with a minute left. Gulp. Johnson and Jeff Badet, who finished with a career-high 139 yards and two touchdowns, were able to move the ball down the field far enough to give Austin MacGinnis a shot, resulting in a 51-yard field goal as time expired to win the game and save Stoops’ job.

Knowing what we do now, the exchange between Stoops and MacGinnis afterwards is even more special.

“We both just looked at each other and I don’t even know what we said,” Stoops said. “I gave him a hug and probably told him I loved him.”

Why doesn’t MacGinnis have an NFL job, again?

The scene on the field was special

Stoops and MacGinnis weren’t the only emotional ones; everyone in the stadium reveled in the shock of the moment, with Benny Snell and Boom Williams even being moved to tears.

“All of us were emotional about this game,” Benny said. “We love this game with all of our heart. When something like that happens, I have no choice but to cry. We just fought so hard.”

Some, like Drew, were moved to four-letter words (language at beginning NSFW):

What a night. What a kick. On behalf of Stoops and us all, thank you, Austin.

Now let’s do it again Saturday night…maybe in a less-dramatic fashion.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

5 Comments for Mississippi State Flashback: The kick that saved Stoops’ job

  1. (Aixelsyd)0505
    5:36 pm September 18, 2018 Permalink

    Can we make those Uniforms a traditional against the West

  2. unbiasedfan
    5:41 pm September 18, 2018 Permalink

    I would love for anyone that doesn’t think Stoops and his staff hasn’t done a remarkable job to really think of where we’ve been compared to where we are now. . Anyone that KNOWS football can see the steady progress KY had made over the last 6 years to where we are now. Competing with EVERYONE. Instead of having 4-5 guys decent on each side of the ball, we now have BUILT quality depth to where they can actually sub without paying the price for it. It takes time to build it and sustain it. Schools today are not willing to give coaches time to do this. To be where we were when Joker left to where we are now doesn’t happen in 2-3 years. If we could get top recruits at each position for 2-3 years in a row, like Alabama, it’s possible. But we will never be Alabama in football just like Alabama will never be Kentucky in basketball. If we could average 8-9 wins a year and a good bowl game every year I’d be well satisfied. There’s only 1 national champion every year, the rest are in the same boat, trying to get there!!! Be very happy of where we’re at, Stoops leaves this year and someone that couldn’t recruit like him and Marrow would come in, we could be right back like we where in Jokers last game verses Vandy. Remember that? Didn’t look like there was 2,000 fans in stands. Stoops had done things the right way, maybe not everyone else’s way, but the way to be able to sustain success year in and year out. Thanks Coach Stoops, staff, Barnhart and Capiluto.

  3. cats646
    6:02 pm September 18, 2018 Permalink

    LETS GET IT ON!!!! VICTORY! KENTUCKY! I never get tired of hearing that. I CANT WAIT FOR THE GAME! BBN…. GET UP!!

  4. RackEmWillie
    9:04 am September 19, 2018 Permalink

    I’m still really confused as to why THIS game was for Stoops job. Not the New Mexico State game. Not South Carolina. Not Vandy.

    But, Mississippi State? Like, I felt like he was coaching for his job the entire month before that game. I would have understood firing him if they started 1-5 or 2-4. I never thought that game was for his job.