It was a dreary day in Lexington for the battle of the two undefeated teams, however, the BBN was anything but.
There was fear that the rain might keep some fans at home, so UK called on their big guns in the 606 to fill the stands to create one of the greatest atmospheres ever seen in Lexington.
In Benny Snell fashion, he made sure to play to fans in an all-time performance.
No. 6: Kentucky 28, No. 14 Mississippi State 7 – September 22, 2018
After going 3-0 and beating Florida for the first time in 31 years, optimism was at an all-time high for the Kentucky program; except there was just one last test to buy-in.
Beating the physical Mississippi State Bulldogs.
A team that had beat Kentucky 45-7 the year prior, a team that many experts said they do what Kentucky does, but better. A team that talked a whole lot a smack leading up to the game and a team that thought they were going to walk out of Lexington with a win.
Kentucky heard the disrespect, and they made sure to put the nation on notice. Especially one Benny Snell Jr.
Benny Barks the Loudest
When people talk about Benny Snell’s defining game, this will be the one they point.
The nation doubted Benny Snell all week. “That Mississippi State defense is just too good,” they all said. Even Mississippi State’s Kylin Hill laughed at the notion of Benny Snell being able to run on any team.
Not to mention Mississippi State gave Benny even more fuel just before the game began when a pregame scuffle broke out at mid-field before the game even started. Benny Snell let it be known he wasn’t backing down.
“They were like, ‘Yeah, I want you, I want you!’ I was like, ‘Oh yeah? I want YOU! I want YOU!’,” Benny explained when asked how the scuffle started.
Of course, the disrespect only fueled Benny Snell to a career night.
Snell ran the Bulldogs into submission with 165 rushing yards while scoring all four of Kentucky’s touchdowns in the victory. Those four touchdowns shattered Randall Cobb’s career touchdown record, with Snell surpassing Cobb’s 37 with 39.
Benny’s four touchdowns also tied his own record for most in a single game at UK. His first four-touchdown performance was against New Mexico State in 2016, his debut as a Wildcat.
I still get chills watching Benny’s performance that night:
After the fourth touchdown, Benny found himself on the jumbotron to the tune of Bennie and the Jets, and it was ELECTRIC.
— Kentucky Sports Video (@UKSportsVideo) September 23, 2018
Kentucky’s Monstrous Defense
Ahead of Kentucky’s matchup with MSU, we knew Kentucky had a solid defense. However, we didn’t know it was one of the country’s BEST defenses.
Josh Allen and company completely suffocated the nation’s fifth-best rushing offense at the time, holding them to just 56 rushing yards and 201 total yards.
For the fourth straight game, Kentucky didn’t allow a single point in the third quarter – which was typically an Achilles for a Mark Stoops defense.
The whole defense looked amazing, even in unfamiliar places. With Kentucky holding on to a narrow touchdown lead midway through the fourth, Nick Fitzgerald launched the ball into the hands of Tyrell Ajian who returned it 35 yards. That turnover set up Benny Snell’s third touchdown to put the nail in the coffin.
Huge interception for Tyrell Ajian. pic.twitter.com/gye1XwKmJM
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 23, 2018
Nicky Fitz’ special season got stopped in its tracks in Lexington on that smokey night.
Oh yeah, and Josh Allen just looked like a monster after the third quarter firework extravaganza.
Let’s not forget those CJ and Dorian Catches
While Benny Snell and the defense stole the show, we must never forget two spectacular catches made by CJ Condran and Dorain Baker.
Kentucky was trailing by a touchdown in the second quarter when Terry Wilson found Dorian Baker on the two-yard line. Just like Tavin Richardson’s catch, it was one of the most textbook sideline catches you will EVER see.
He got BOTH feet in. Folks, this catch would count on Sundays.
This catch set up for Benny Snell’s first touchdown of the game to tie the game at seven.
Then on the first drive out of halftime, it was CJ Conrad’s turn to set up a touchdown with a spectacular catch.
More looks at this incredible grab by CJ Conrad. pic.twitter.com/Vtb1PtYAJN
— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) September 23, 2018
Those catches, Benny Snell, the Kentucky offensive line, the defense, ALL OF IT was crucial in getting Kentucky to 4-0 and 2-0 in the SEC for the first time since 1977.
This game is when we knew Kentucky was for real. If the Florida game wasn’t confirmation enough, beating a team as physical as Mississippi State into submission sealed the deal.
Kentucky had the running back and they had the defense, and it put the nation on notice.
Benny Snell put himself in the Heisman talks for a few weeks and kept himself as a nation-wide favorite amongst football fans. College Gameday even dubbed him the most interesting man in college football, and it kicked off the “I play for Kentucky” campaign.
and for Kylin Hill and all the other haters…
Keep doubting @benny_snell…
— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 23, 2018
— Mr SNELL YA LATER?? (@benny_snell) September 23, 2018
You a clown over the internet! I show up in real life.
— Mr SNELL YA LATER?? (@benny_snell) September 17, 2018
Benny Snell wasn’t the only person who had a message for the haters. After Kentucky pummeled Mississippi State, Kash Daniel cut a post-game promo and Kash 3:16 was born:
This game was a catalyst for the rest of Kentucky’s historic season in 2018. Kentucky outplayed a ranked, physical SEC team, without gimmicks and that allowed the Cats to finally dream of competing for an SEC East championship.
We knew Kentucky was FINALLY good, and this is only one of many memorable games from last season.
Check out the other games in our Countdown to Kickoff Series:
No. 7: The Kick Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth (Kentucky 40, Mississippi State 38- October 22, 2016)
No. 8: Stephen Soars Over Rocky Top (Kentucky 29, Tennesee 26- October 28, 2017)
No. 9: Tounges Out in the Sandstorm (Kentucky 23, South Carolina 13- September 16, 2017)
No. 10: The First Road Victory (Kentucky 26, South Carolina 22- September 12, 2015)