Kentucky football: Ghost of Wildcat miscues awakens in heartbreaking loss

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Final. 19. 833. 22. 841

On a beautiful college football day, the ghost of miscues and bad luck that haunt the Kentucky football program awoke in Oxford, Mississippi casting a dark cloud over the No. 7 ranked Wildcats who had the game won and watched be snatched away losing 22-19 to Ole Miss.

While technically it will be the No. 11 ranked Ole Miss defense that will get credit, Kentucky (4-1, 1-1) was it’s own worst enemy on special teams, and a pair of fumbles by quarterback Will Levis on the Wildcats’ last two possessions trying to get his team into the endzone.






Pick any of the above and they would all describe the feeling Big Blue Nation is feeling after losing a game it should have won.

But along the way and leading up to the final pair of fumbles the Cats missed a field goal, had an extra point blocked, botched another extra point snap, gave up a safety in the first half, and chose not to take a penalty and move Ole Miss back that would have taken them out of field goal range instead allowing a 53-yarder.

And then they fumbled at the Ole Miss 16-yard line and then the 12-yard line on their final two possessions.

Granted Levis was doing all he could to get the go-ahead points the Wildcats needed and he wouldn’t have had to had the string of nightmares described above not put him into that possession.

Kentucky had even taken that lead with 58 seconds to go – except a yellow flag negated a great Levis to Dane Key touchdown from seven yards out due to illegal motion.

There was also the targeting call that wasn’t flagged when Levis was clocked in the head just before fumbling. Debatable but in this day and age of protecting the quarterback at all costs its hard to believe it wasn’t called or at least reviewed.

The Wildcats had not turned it over and had one penalty for zero yards called on them leading up to the fourth quarter. They added a pair on the opening drive of the quarter and then the touch one as Levis snapped the ball before his receivers could get set in his zest to score.

That split second of him just taking a breath a big five-yard penalty and coach Mark Stoops let him know that.

There have been lots of years of could a, should a, would a, but we thought that we had buried those ghosts. Apparently not.

Kentucky has lost three straight to Ole Miss and hasn’t beaten the Rebels on the road since Sept. 26, 1964, when the Wildcats won 27-21 in Jackson, Mississippi.

But we also saw a lot of bright spots and one loss doesn’t send the season down the drain.

Here are some quick takeaways.

No. 1 Welcome back Chris Rodriguez this Kentucky football team needed you

The Kentucky football team got a much-needed boost with the return of running back Chris Rodriguez.

We didn’t need him to be the savior given the 4-0 start, but the running game needed help and those hard-fought, grind-it-out yards he will get for us.

He carried 19 times for 72 yards and one touchdown for a 3.8 yards per carrying average. He also pulled down three passes for 40 yards.

He was tired as the game went along on the sideline but after serving a four-game suspension it’s clear how valuable of an asset he is to balance out the Kentucky offense. When facing a 3rd and 4 give that ball to C-Rod because he is going to get those yards one way or another.

Izayah Cummings (23), JuThan McClain (21), Kavosiey Smoke (6), and Tayvion Robinson (5) combined for 55 yards, and Levis was sacked three times and lost19 yards.