When Mark Stoops was hired as head football coach at the University of Kentucky, he talked about his goal of making his Wildcats a team that could compete in the SEC and eventually compete for championships. Halfway through his first season, Stoops would get a chance to see, up close and personal, what he strived for as the top ranked and defending national champion Alabama Crimson Tide rolled into town with a 42 game winning streak against unranked opponents. Now no one would expect Kentucky to upset, or even give Nick Saban’s charges a run for their money after last years 2-10 season. But what Alabama would provide is a type of measuring stick that Stoops could use to see where his Wildcats are and how far they need to progress to realize Stoops’s goals. And after tonight, Mark Stoops knows he has a lot of work to do after a dominating 48-7 performance by Alabama.
But despite the domination, Kentucky did show a good amount of fight and fire, especially in the first half.
Alabama dominated the game from the start, but somehow, Kentucky was able to keep Alabama off the board for the first seventeen minutes of the game. Most of that was due to unaccustomed Alabama errors as they chewed up yardage between the twenties but sputtered in the redzone. A dropped pass by Kenny Bell doomed the Crimson Tide’s first drive as they were forced to punt from near midfield. Kenyan Drake and TJ Yelden were responsible for red zone fumbles on the next two drives, which Fred Tiller and Avery Williamson pounced on at the UK 13 and 1, respectively.
It was a blessing for UK to get the two early turnovers. but kind of a curse because this team was not going to go on a 87 or a 99 yard drive against the tenacious Alabama defense. And as expected, UK’s offense was in for a long night. Kentucky went three and out on their first two drives and lost starting QB Jalen Whitlow with an ankle injury. Max Smith was able to guide Kentucky to a couple of first downs on their third drive, but he could only get them to their own 26 after starting at his own one yard line.
Alabama’s next drive stalled at the Kentucky eight yard line, but the Tide got on the board with a 25 yard FG. After another Kentucky punt, AJ McCarron seemed to be tired of messing around. He connected with around with the red zone struggles. He connected with Kevin Norwood for a 42 yard bomb to the UK one yard line. Drake ended the red zone struggles on the next play and like that, Alabama was up 10-0 with about 10:00 left in the half. It was a sign of things to come for the Alabama offense as they scored two more touchdowns in the half and Kentucky countered with two more three and outs.
After the shocking 0-0 first quarter score, normalcy was stored to college football as Alabama was up 24-0 at the half.