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Allen, Snell Star as SEC Greats

By BJ Bennett
SouthernPigskin.com
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Here are players, even before the next level, whose legacies will last a long time.

With a dramatic Citrus Bowl triumph over Penn State, Kentucky put the finishing touches on the most successful season in a generation. The Wildcats, winning 27-24, secured their first ten-win year since 1977. As Kentucky made history, two of the best players the SEC has ever seen led the way. Edge Josh Allen and running back Benny Snell are as good as it gets -- and have the records, both on the stat sheet and in the standings, to prove it. 

Both Allen and Snell were at their best in a collective grand finale in Orlando. They, against a traditional power in the Nittany Lions, shined in the spotlight of a New Year's Day bowl game. The two SEC superstars were the best players on the field. Allen recorded three sacks and blocked a field goal in the three-point win, while Snell, the game MVP, ran for 144 yards and two touchdowns. Just as they have been the last few seasons, Allen and Snell were Kentucky's catalysts for success on the big stage.  

Here are players, even before the next level, whose legacies will last a long time.

The winner of the Bednarik, Lambert and Nagurski Awards and the Lott Trophy, Allen entered the postseason with a lot of hype; he now leaves with even more. Allen, with three sacks against Penn State, set a new SEC record for sacks in a single season with 17. His career total of 31.5 is good for third all-time, just a half-sack out of first place. All that Allen did, creating turnovers to elevating Kentucky into the top ten nationally in scoring defense, validates his year as one of the most dominant of late. For point or reference, the last Power Five defender with at least 17 sacks and four forced fumbles in a season was Von Miller.  

Snell, in just his junior year, became the Wildcats' career rushing leader in the Citrus Bowl. With 48 touchdowns, Snell finishes with the third-most scores ever in the SEC, just one less than Herschel Walker. His 3,873 yards, furthermore, are good for 12th in league history, with Snell slotted one spot behind Emmitt Smith. Remarkably, Snell's tenure ends with 19 career 100-yard games, his last one included. The football was in Snell's hands as Kentucky ran out the clock for a historic Citrus Bowl win.

Confidence and conviction from the faces of the franchise helped Kentucky get to this point. After Snell kicked off the year for the Wildcats by saying he was the best running back in the conference at SEC Media Days back in the summer, Allen closed one book, and potentially opened another, with a strong statement post-game.

"You all record this," the 6'5'', 260-pound talent declared, "If I don't go number one, I don't who is."

Together, Allen and Snell set the tone as the Wildcats challenged and changed the status quo. Kentucky, this fall, beat Florida for the first time in over 30 years, winning in The Swamp for the first time in close to 40. In November, the Wildcats hosted a high-profile SEC East Championship Game against Georgia. Kentucky finished the regular season with a 46-point triumph over rival Louisville, the most-lopsided win the series has ever seen. In beating Penn State, the Wildcats claimed a statement New Year's Day bowl win, their last coming in 1951.    

Kentucky spent time this season in the national top ten and, after Tuesday, will either finish there or right on the verge. It's been a year to remember for the Wildcats, with players college football won't soon forget. 

These two All-Americans and Kentucky legends have resumes that compare with the greatest of all-time. Allen and Snell brought notable hardware to Lexington, individual and team trophies alike. Their respective shadows help set the new standard.

BJ Bennett - B.J. Bennett is SouthernPigskin.com's founder and publisher. He is the co-host of "Three & Out" with Kevin Thomas and Ben Troupe on the "Southern Pigskin Radio Network". Email: bj@espncoastal.com / Twitter: @BJBennettSports