Kentucky football: take the 31-23 win and move on we’re 4-0 going to Oxford

Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) celebrates (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) celebrates (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /
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23. 2150. 31. 833. Final

The Kentucky football team certainly didn’t look overly impressive in beating Northern Illinois 31-23, but the glass is half full and glass half empty Big Blue Nation can debate all they want.  The bottom line is the Wildcats are 4-0 heading into seven straight Southeastern Conference games and ranked No. 8.

Some things are quite evident and haven’t really changed much after playing 240 minutes of football this season  – the defense is really good; Will Levis can lead a team to victory, and the receivers are some of the best and most exciting we have ever seen in a UK jersey.

The offensive line and running game – well that continues on a very slow trajectory.

This Kentucky football team knows they are special this season and have the ability to achieve great things including vying for the SEC East title.

Florida pretty much sealed its fate by losing to Tennessee and Kentucky in Week No. 2. The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0) and Vols (4-0, 1-0) are the top contenders hoping to dethrone Georgia.

But for now, let’s take one week at a time. Kentucky football has dispatched four teams this far a quarter way into the season and hits the road to Ole Miss next Saturday that will define who this Wildcat team truly is.

The spread was 23.5 points and well that didn’t happen. The over/under was 53.5 points and these two just helped the over betters cash in.

After the game coach, Mark Stoops talked about the near breakdown allowing UNI to stay in the game.

"“You know, obviously not the finish that we were looking for. I think that kind of puts a bad taste in everybody’s mouth who was sitting there. We’re up 17 with eight minutes to go in the game and you’re feeling pretty decent, and I think at that point in time we punted. And, obviously, they hit the big, explosive play on the first down well, after the three. They come back and get the explosive play when we were up 14 and we knew the absolute exact play that was coming…. And, if I’m not mistaken, the corner and one of our defenders ran into each other and created the explosive, which is not good in that situation. You got to make them work for their yards.”"

However, Kentucky has now won 19 straight non-conference contests which leads the nation and has won five straight games at Kroger Field.

Before the haters start it was a tough day for many teams including

No. 1 Georgia struggling to beat Kent State 39-22

No. 4 Michigan 34 hanging on 34-27 over Maryland

No. 5 Clemson had to roar back to nip No. 21 Wake Forrest 51-45

Unranked Kansas State stuns No. 6 Oklahoma 41-34

Unranked Texas Tech beat No. 22 Texas 37-34

Unranked Middle Tennessee beat No. 25 Miami 45-31

No. 15 Oregon rallying to beat Washington St 44-41

And Kentucky’s next opponent Ole Miss fended off Tulsa 35-27.

So anything can happen in one crazy weekend so don’t go jumping off the deep end just yet.

Let’s just take a quick look at some takeaways from Kentucky’s win.

No. 1 take Will Levis has the goods to lead a team to victory

Will Levis just knows when he has to seize the reins of the offense and either take the game over himself or get the ball into the hands of the playmakers – which right now are his receivers.

The senior who is destined for an amazing NFL career tied a career-best with four touchdown passes, including crucial passes on the money for scores of 70 and 40 yards to Barion Brown and Tayvion Robinson, respectively, after halftime. That followed a 69-yard pass and run-scoring laser to Robinson in the second quarter after a 15-yarder to Brown in the first quarter.

Levis was asked what a luxury it is to have a pair of receivers like Brown and Robinson.

"“Yeah you’re going to need that if you’re going to have an electric offense. You’re going to need electric playmakers. Octavian has that ability to make moves before he even catches the ball, which is really cool. Barion just has that next level speed to blow by people. Yeah I can dunk it all day for 300 yards, but when you can throw for 300, and with only 18 completions, that’s awesome.”"

The senior quarterback connected on 18 of his 26 passes for 303 yards and four touchdowns without throwing an interception – although he did throw one that was ruled a drop.

The Penn State transfer started his UK career a little zealous throwing six picks in his first five games. However, since then his last 12 starts for Kentucky he has completed 68 percent of his passes amassed 2,873 yards passing, adding 255 yards rushing, and accounted for 36 total touchdowns and 11 interceptions.

He isn’t forcing passes, waits for and leads his receivers to completions, and is head and shoulders the captain on the field for the offense.