Kentucky survived early blunders and an electric crowd to go to 3-0 on the young season after a 23-13 win over the South Carolina Gamecocks.
Like their previous wins, this one was old-fashioned gritty football, which suits this bunch of Wildcats like a well-tailored suit.
The entire team and coaching staff deserve a round of applause, but only a handful of players will receive a helmet sticker. They are as follows:
Derrick Baity: The junior corner's night mirrored that of his team. Baity was one of the defenders who got burned on the Gamecock's early one-hit score, but he persevered and played a key role in the victory. Baity recorded a team-high eight tackles (six solos) and grabbed the game-clinching interception. He also assisted on the biggest plays of the night: the two 4th down stops that killed critical South Carolina drives.
Stephen Johnson: QB1 was my pick for UK's MVP of the game in the staff's pregame predictions, and played like it in Columbia. Johnson could have folded after throwing a costly interception on his second pass of the game, but he didn't. The JUCO transfer cooly got back to work and led Kentucky on two touchdown drives that put them in the lead for good. He made smart throws and never tried to force anything, and finished 16-of-25 for 169 yards through the air. However, Johnson's biggest contribution was his 54-yard scamper on 3rd and 8 that essentially iced the game for the Cats.
Eli Brown: The sophomore had big shoes to fill in his second straight start as Brown took the place of injured star linebacker Jordan Jones. He also faced a tremendous amount of doubt after a poor performance in relief of Jones against Eastern Kentucky. Brown put the past behind him and shined on a night where the entire linebacker corp played out of their minds. The Bowling Green product played with energy and physicality, recording six tackles and making the case that the only thing that will keep him off the field is an injury he suffered late in the contest.
Benny Snell: The blue and white's bulldozer ran his way to another one hundred yard game, his second straight on the season, finishing with 102 yards on 32 carries and two touchdowns. Snell's longest run was only 12 yards, so he had to fight for every inch of turf gained. Despite not have a sexy play to add to the highlight reel, Snell did his job well, he helped keep the chains moving and which in turn kept USC's potent offense off the field.
Austin MacGinnis: In such a tight matchup, every point counts and Kentucky is lucky to have a kicker who rarely leaves any on the field. MacGinnis finished a perfect three-of-three on field goals and two-for-two on extra points. Contrast that with kickers from South Carolina, who could not hit the broadside of a barn, and you have the difference between victory and defeat.