UK football keeps struggling to put teams away, even in wins


Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr. rushes past a defender during the game against Missouri Saturday, October 7, 2017 in Lexington, Ky. Kentucky won the game 40-34.

UK football has survived yet another late-game scare as they defeated Missouri on Saturday night.

This marks the third straight game decided by six points or less, and no game this season has been decided by any less than 11 points. That “blowout,” by this season’s standards, came against Eastern Kentucky back in early September.

Since then, the Cats have had to claw for every game, even if it appeared to be in their control beforehand. On Saturday, the circumstances were no different.

With five minutes to go in the second quarter, UK held a 20-7 lead over the struggling Tigers, who are currently 1-4. The lead for the Cats never got larger, in fact, they ended up winning by six, beating Missouri 40-34.

Recap: Cats defeat Missouri to improve to 5-1

“I think our instinct to like, really destroy an opponent, we don’t have it,” UK cornerback Derrick Baity said after the win. “We’ll jump out on them, stuff like that is good, but we’re not consistent enough to keep going on them. Even the defense, even though the defense is doing it, we’re letting up ourselves. We’re getting complacent once we take a good lead.”

Against the UK defensive backs, Missouri exploded for four passing plays of at least 48 yards, more than the Cats have given up in the last five games combined.

The Cats’ average margin of victory this year has been 7.4 across five wins. For comparison, in the last season the Cats were 5-1 (2014), their average margin of victory was a gaudy 22.6 points at this point in the season. The 2014 team went on to lose the last six games.

After the last close game, a close 24-20 win against Eastern Michigan, UK head coach Mark Stoops was asked about the possibility that his team plays to their level of competition. He simply said that he hopes his team doesn’t do that.

Sophomore running back Benny Snell Jr., who had a career long rush of 71 yards against Missouri, spoke about why every game was so close after the win.

“I feel like we hit a point to where we’re not comfortable. We just hit that flat line, and the teams take advantage of that,” he said. “It’s up to us to get out of that and not let that happen. A W’s a W to me, that’s all I’ve got to say about that.”

Watch: Benny Snell post-game interview

A W is indeed a W, Benny, and the Cats now have five of them.