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Mississippi State And The Recruiting Impact For Kentucky Football

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With Mississippi State’s success and their ascent to the #1 spot in both the A/P and coaches polls, Kentucky is in a win-win situation when it comes to recruiting. The Wildcats only have to make a game of it in order to gain respect and maybe momentum in the minds of recruits. Win the game and shock the world. This game is the CBS prime-time game. When was the last time that’s happened?

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Sports

The October 25th game was already going to be the biggest weekend for recruiting as there will be many recruits and committed players in town for the game. The headliner will, of course, be Damien Harris. This will be his official visit after numerous unofficial visits. This game could catapult Kentucky into the favorite spot.

While Kentucky has lost three committed players so far, I don't think the Big Blue Nation is depressed about it. The belief is that Stoops will replace those we've lost with players just as good, or better. Darius Fullwood (Virginia Tech flip) or Montrell Custis (Alabama flip) were the biggest losses and Alex Stump (Ohio State flip) was, perhaps, the most underrated. You should take note of just who flipped these players. Read what Rivals National Analyst has to say about Kentucky's recruiting losses in this Ben Roberts article at the Lexington Herald-Leader. So, let not your heart be troubled.

Let's talk Damien Harris. As you know, he's out for 3-4 weeks with a knee injury. You have to wonder if Ohio State is concerned about the injury. They just offered Ke'Shawn Vaughn of Nashville who Kentucky has backed off on. Again, was that due to the Harris injury or the belief that Harris isn't going to commit to the Buckeyes? This is an interesting development to say the least.

Ohio State, Alabama and Kentucky were deemed the favorites for the nation's #1 running back. Does this mean than Ohio State is giving up the fight? Kentucky doesn't have to worry about the Harris injury. Stoops will take him no matter what and worry about the injury once he's on board. It can be fixed and Kentucky will fix it. Ohio State had already offered the nation's 2nd ranked running back, Jacques Patrick from Florida. The Vaughn offer could mean that Urban Meyer is trying to force the hand of Patrick or Harris, or both. Don't look for either to bite. Patrick isn't interested in Kentucky, but he's interested in Alabama and Florida State. You can read about this development here. My gut tells me it is Alabama or Kentucky. Why? SEC, baby, SEC.

Mississippi State

UK-MSU Sched

Mississippi State comes to Lexington as the #1 team and is projected to be one of the four picked for the national playoff. They are very good on the offensive side of the ball and Dak Robinson is the current leader in the Heisman race.

The Bulldogs are a senior-laden team while Kentucky is made up mostly of sophomores, red-shirt freshmen and true freshmen. If you look at the 2 deep depth charts for both teams, you see the following seniors:

Offense:

Tight End: Kentucky: Steven Borden, Ronnie Shields; MSU: Malcolm Johnson, Brandon Hill

Left Tackle: Kentucky: Darrian Miller; MSU: Blaine Causell

Center: MSU: Dillon Day

Right Guard: MSU: Ben Beckworth

Tight End: MSU: Branden Hill - Malcolm Johnson is listed as the #1 guy on both sides (see above)

Runningback: MSU: Nick Griffin

Fullback: Kentucky: D.J. Warren

Wide Receiver: Kentucky: Demarco Robinson, Javess Blue; MSU: Jameon Lewis, Robert Johnson

Defense:

Defensive End: Kentucky: Za'Darius Smith

Defensive Tackle: Kentucky: Mike Douglas; MSU: P.J. Jones, Kaleb Eulls, Curtis Virges

Defensive End: Kentucky: Bud Dupree; MSU: Preston Smith

Linebacker: Kentucky: TraVaughn Paschal; MSU: Matt Wells

Safety: Kentucky: Ashley Lowery; MSU: Jay Hughes, Justin Cox

Cornerback: Kentucky: Nate Willis; MSU: Jamerson Love

That's six 2 deep contributing seniors on both sides of the line for Kentucky and 17 on MSU's 2 deep.

Comparing the two teams (NCAA Rank)

Offense

Rushing: MSU 12th, UK 60th

Passing: MSU 41st, UK 51st

Total: MSU 10th, UK 61st

Scoring: MSU 9th, UK 53rd

Defense

Rushing: MSU 25th, UK 78th

Passing: UK 15th, MSU 121st

Total: UK 40th, MSU 88th

Scoring: MSU t-19th, UK t-37th

If you wish to compare specific numbers, the following provides that, along with those on the rest of our schedule, for you.

Stats1

stats2

stats3

stats4

The question for the Big Blue Nation is whether or not Mississippi State is vulnerable.

Looking Forward - seeking win # six

After Mississippi State, Kentucky has four games remaining and three are roadies. Beating the nation's #1 team is a tall order. Assuming Kentucky doesn't pull this out on Saturday, our opportunities for number six are still there.

Missouri isn't the same Missouri as last year, yet they had a sweet visit to the Swamp and beat the Gators 42-13. It wasn't the offense that won the game. They accumulated a grand total of 119 yards for the game and set a SEC season record low of 20 yards through the air bypassing Vandy's 60 yards against Ole Miss. Missouri's two losses (so far) were at home. Indiana (whoa!) beat them 31-27 and Georgia beat them 34-0. Maty Mauk doesn't have Beckham-Green this year and their O-line is suspect.

The Georgia Bulldogs are on a roll this year. Gurley goes down and they simply replace him with Nick Chubb. Not a big deal for Georgia. Not many teams can do that.  The Dawg's defense improves with each game even though Arkansas hung 32 on them in Little Rock. Georgia looks to win the SEC East. They're the only East team to beat a SEC West team.

Tennessee has Alabama at home this week and then travel to Columbia, SC before hosting our Wildcats. For the BBN, how they do against the Gamecocks is more important than how bad they look against the Crimson Tide.

We find out over the next two weeks just how good the #1 ranked Louisville defense is.  They have a bye this week so they can better prepare against Florida State at Papa John's on Oct. 30th. We'll also find out if the Cards passing game is improving.

Here's how the Cats stack up the rest of the way:

Saturday Down South names five Coordinators who may not be around next season. Agree?

Quarterback Efficiency - NCAA rank

7. Dak Prescott, Mississippi St. - 165.6

34. Hutson Mason, Georgia - 146.5

52. Will Gardner, Louisville - 136.0

55. Patrick Towles, Kentucky - 134.1

76. Justin Worley, Tennessee - 124.3

91. Maty Mauk, Missouri - 118.8

So, where does Kentucky get win number six, in your opinion?

Feel free to change your mind next week.