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Bob Dixon

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Go Big Blue!

Kentucky Struggles as Crimson Tide Dominate in 49-21 Blowout; UK Honorary Captains Chosen

By Jamie H. Vaught


LEXINGTON – Unlike the 2002 “Bluegrass Miracle” game against Kentucky in Lexington when Coach Nick Saban’s LSU team came up with a game-winning 75-yard TD as time expired to beat the Wildcats, he didn’t need another miracle for the eighth-ranked Crimson Tide to defeat the Cats Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field.

Tight end Brenden Bates of Kentucky caught a reception for 33 yards against Alabama Saturday afternoon at Kroger Field. (Photo by Danny Vaughn)

Saban, now in his 17th season at Alabama, saw his team cruise to a comfortable 21-0 lead in the first quarter before UK scored on a 6-yard TD pass to make it 21-7. But the Wildcats had to play catch up the rest of the afternoon.


With a 49-21 victory, Alabama clinched the SEC West Division title, earning a spot in the SEC championship game in Atlanta on Dec 2. The Crimson Tide improved their record to 9-1 overall (7-0 SEC). Kentucky dropped to 6-4 overall (3-4 in SEC).


UK coach Mark Stoops praised Alabama.


“Obviously, that is a good football team,” said Stoops. “We didn't match up very well today. We didn't get off to a very good start, and we didn't get much better after that start. So, again, give them credit. I think that's a football team that is getting better and better, getting stronger and stronger as the year goes on, and I think they are going to make a strong push here late, very impressive win by them.”


After a spectacular performance against LSU in the previous week, Alabama QB Jalen Milroe starred again as he had six touchdowns (three rushing, three passing) and 270 total yards.


Said Saban, who is now 9-0 in games he’s coached against the Wildcats, including 6-0 while at Alabama, “I'm really proud of this team. This team has come a long way, these guys have worked hard. There's great togetherness, good leadership on the team. A lot of guys have made significant improvement because they stay positive and stay the course in terms of listening to what the coaches had to say about what they needed to do to improve.


“It's great that we won the West and are going to have an opportunity to play in the SEC championship game, which I'm very happy for this team. I think there's probably very few people [that thought that would happen] after the Texas game (a 34-24 loss) or the South Florida game (a 17-13 victory). A lot of naysayers out there never really believed in these guys, but I always believed in this team and trusted in this team that they would develop into something that's special. It has been special, it's been a great experience to see them grow and develop and the confidence that you need to, you know, play really, really well.

Travis Powers and Tom Kalinowski on video scoreboard at Kroger Field Saturday afternoon. They were named as honorary captains at Kentucky. (Photo by Danny Vaughn)

“I think they were sort of excited about the fact a couple guys came up to me, and I always talked to him about when we play on the road. You know, if you empty the stadium, that means you know you really beat the other team. I didn't use that in this game, but they certainly got the message and said ‘Coach, look around’ so I'm pretty proud of them the way they played today.”


Kentucky QB Devin Leary said, “It sucks to lose. It’s definitely tough. Every time I step on the field my main goal is to win for my brothers. Walking away from the field and having that outcome is tough for me but I’m still going to be resilient, I’m still going to come back watch the film and get better and I’m still going to attack every practice like it’s my last. We will bounce back from this.”


In total offense, Alabama outgained Kentucky 444-253 yards.


For Veteran's Day, former UK football player Travis Powers, a native of Middlesboro, was named as a honorary captain before the game after serving in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1994 to 2016. "It was an incredible honor to be invited as a honorary game captain against 'Bama," Powers wrote on Facebook.


UK equipment manager Tom Kalinowski also was selected as a honorary captain for his 50 years with the program.


Kentucky, which also honored 20 players during Senior Day ceremonies, play at South Carolina Saturday. The 7:30 p.m. (ET) game will be televised on the SEC Network.

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