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Open Game Thread: The Hilltoppers Come to Town

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This is the official open thread for Western Kentucky University at the University of Kentucky.

This is the last of the out of conference games before Kentucky ventures into the wild and wooly SEC, and for the Wildcats to have a chance at a bowl this year, it would seem that this game is absolutely critical to their hopes. So far the last few years, the Hilltoppers have been mired in futility against SEC teams, losing every game against SEC foes since 2005.

For Kentucky, they need to show that they can be competitive in the SEC, and so far they have simply not done so. UK has had some good moments, but for the most part, the offense has been extremely limited and unimpressive, even if the defense has been stalwart.

Five keys that will lead to a UK victory:

  1. Ramp up the running game. Our much-vaunted stable of running backs need to show they can deliver.
  2. Offensive line play -- for a line with such experience and depth, they have not made holes for the backs.
  3. Vertical game -- we should have one.
  4. Keep the Toppers in front of them -- The defense has seen what the spread can do under the right conditions. Kentucky must prove they can defend it.
  5. Kick field goals -- We have been solid on special teams except for field goals. Tydlacka needs to prove himself, since Seiber has given him the opportunity.

Five things that could lead to a UK loss:

  1. Failure to defend the spread -- we have seen big yards gained on UK by the one spread team they have faced, and UK must show they can defend it better.
  2. Failure to score in the red zone -- Kentucky is 72nd in the nation in red zone conversions.
  3. Failure to keep Western out of the red zone -- Western Kentucky is 13-13 in red zone conversions, tied for the national lead.
  4. Special teams -- Kentucky has been very solid in special teams. If they take today off, it could cost them the game.
  5. Turnover margin -- Kentucky is 12th in the nation, and Western is 18th. Whoever wins the turnover battle will have a leg up in this game.