Cats on the opposite side of a familiar outcome in loss to No. 1 Alabama


UK-Bama 2

Anthony Crawford

Between the packed stadium, passionate fans and overwhelming talent gap that was on display, the game that took place in Alabama Saturday was not that much different than what UK basketball fans see from the Cats during the heart of basketball season.  

The 34-6 loss for UK Football to No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide, was in a sense not the beatdown that many expected, but rather overwhelming talent doing exactly what it’s expected to do.

UK didn’t have quite enough to make it much of a game past carrying a 3-3 draw into the second quarter with the best team in the nation.

Drawing up a game plan for a team like Alabama is something that is harder than it seems and often leads to wins like Saturday for the Tide, which UK should actually know a lot about, after being a part of some many on the hardwood instead of the gridiron.

Most team’s go up against an NBA frontcourt like the one’s UK basketball churns out year after year and are helpless in getting denied and swatted in any attempt to venture into the paint.

The Cats dared to challenge the best front seven in all of college football Saturday in Tuscaloosa and came away with only 72 rushing yards and gave up nine tackles for a loss, including four sacks on quarterback Stephen Johnson.

It was a tough night for the offense, but the Cats did show a lot of fight to start the game holding Alabama to just a field goal in the first quarter and being down only as much as 10-3 nearing halftime before a fumble recovery returned for an Alabama touchdown made it 17-3 at the half.

The strong start also plays right into the similarities to the Cats’ usual dominance in SEC basketball, as many teams often come to Rupp Arena and play the Cats fairly even for a short time before they are able to pull away. Often times the level play can be attributed to the common game plan of packing the paint and hoping UK doesn’t find its outside shooting touch.

That’s similar to what UK football tried against Alabama, as it baited the Tide and their freshmen quarterback Jalen Hurts for most of the game with the deep ball knowing that their porous run defense stood no chance against Alabama’s big powerful running backs.

This worked for most of the first half, as Hurts only threw for 89 yards as he was pressured numerous times by an aggressive pass rush led by linebackers Josh Allen and Jordan Jones.

But like the threes eventually falling for UK basketball to help them pull out to a big lead, so did the deep balls for Alabama.

Whether UK’s pass rush got tired or Alabama finally got concerned enough to pick it up, Hurts kept getting opportunities down field and most of them were targeting one of the Tide’s best receiver Calvin Ridley.

Hurts found Ridley for two touchdowns and 133 yards in the third quarter to put the game away.

The upset bid died quickly for UK, but that doesn’t mean its effort was wasted. A late fourth quarter drive that went for 63 yards and was capped off with a 30-yard field goal was easily the Cats’ best of the game and showed a lot heart.

Positives like that and the fact that the defense looked solid in the first half are big takeaways that UK can hold on to going into a crucial matchup at home against Vanderbilt. And the team can be happy in escaping the matchup with Alabama with no major injuries. 

It may be simple to say that UK simply got overpowered by a better team but that’s what happened. Many SEC teams have to come to terms with having no answers for UK basketball’s overwhelming talent, and UK football had to do the against No. 1 Alabama on the road.