LEXINGTON Ky. — Kentucky ran out to a 35-10 lead behind brilliance from Drew Barker and company on offense but a second half collapse derailed the Wildcats in a season opening loss.
Commonwealth Stadium stayed quiet for the last 30 minutes of game time as everyone in attendance seemingly struggled to grasp what was going on.
Here’s to making sense of the mayhem.
Southern Miss quarterback Nick Mullens tossed a 71-yard touchdown pass with 26 seconds before halftime to narrow the score to 35-17. Even so, the Wildcats went into the locker room with momentum after clicking on offense throughout the first half. But the last minute Southern Miss score in the second quarter was the first seven of 31 unanswered points from the Golden Eagles.
USM scored to end the first half and they score to start the second. 35-24 Cats.
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) September 4, 2016
Is Kentucky any better than it was last year at stopping the run?
The Wildcats have given up 200-plus yards rushing five times in their last seven games dating back to last year. Southern Miss had a pair of runners who crossed the century mark Saturday and the UK defense was depleted in the second half.
What’s next? Kentucky looked like one of the lone bright spots in the SEC East during the first half before turning into the division’s dud in the second half. A matchup at Florida looms in Week 2 and the Cats quest for their first bowl bid since 2010 took a massive blow at the fist of Southern Miss.
Sure, it’s only Week 1, but there’s no positive to put on this game for UK.
This was pretty much Mark Stoops' worst nightmare. His fired OC, Shannon Dawson, has hung 40-plus points and now more than 500 yards on UK.
— Kyle Tucker (@KyleTucker_AJC) September 4, 2016
Southern Miss out-gained Kentucky 295-56 in the second half. Not much more to say about that one.
What it means:
Southern Miss offensive coordinator Shannon Dawson was fired in December by Kentucky and he took revenge by putting up 44 points on his old boss.
UK is trying to turn the corner in Year 4 under Mark Stoops but Saturday was a drastic dive in the wrong direction.
Follow Joe on Twitter @joe_mussatto. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org