No. 23 Kentucky doomed by mistakes as upset bid of No. 8 Auburn falls short

Sam Cooper
·3 min read

No. 23 Kentucky looked like it was potentially in position to upset No. 8 Auburn on the road on Saturday. And then the wheels fell off.

Trailing 15-13, the Wildcats regained possession in the first minute of the fourth quarter with a chance to take the lead. They would never come close.

Three plays into that drive, quarterback Terry Wilson fumbled, giving Auburn great field position. Five plays later, Bo Nix lobbed one up in the end zone for Seth Williams, who snatched the ball away from the UK defender for a highlight-reel touchdown.

Kentucky’s next possession ended with another brutal mistake. The offense went three-and-out, but coach Mark Stoops dialed up a fake punt. Max Duffy needed five yards to keep the drive alive. He lost three, giving the ball back to the Tigers.

This time around, Auburn needed just two plays to reach the end zone as Nix found Eli Stove behind the defense for a 21-yard score.

In a matter of about six minutes, a two-point deficit ballooned to a 16-point deficit. From there, the Auburn defense would close out a somewhat comfortable 29-13 victory.

Auburn quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws a pass against Kentucky during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)
Auburn quarterback Bo Nix (10) throws a pass against Kentucky during the second quarter of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020 in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Wild sequence at end of first half

While that sequence of events was disheartening for Kentucky, it does not come close to what occurred at the end of the first half.

Trailing 8-7 with 1:14 left in the half, Kentucky had a first-and-goal from the Auburn 2-yard line and it looked like Christopher Rodriguez Jr. had crossed the plane of the goal line by a fairly comfortable margin. Instead, he was ruled short. And after a review, the call perplexingly stood.

(via ESPN)
(via ESPN)

Two plays later, Wilson forced one into traffic and was intercepted by Auburn’s Roger McCreary.

McCreary was off to the races and went 100 yards for a pick-six for the Tigers. It was an absolutely brutal turn of events for Kentucky, though the blow was lessened when a flag was thrown.

Instead of a touchdown for Auburn, a targeting penalty was identified on Auburn’s Derick Hall, who was flagged for leveling a Kentucky player near the sideline at the 30-yard line during the return. The return was called back because of the penalty and Auburn instead went into the break leading 8-7.

Auburn extended the lead to 15-7 on the touchdown pass from Nix to Williams, their second scoring connection of the afternoon.

Kentucky responded with a touchdown of its own on the ensuing possession, but a two-point conversion try — necessitated by a surprise two-point conversion from Auburn in the first half — was unsuccessful.

That would be the last time Kentucky was in striking distance as Auburn took control from there en route to a 1-0 start.

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