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Kentucky Football: Getting to Know You: Mississippi State Edition

The Wildcats are following up a heartbreaking home loss to Auburn with an extremely difficult road test against another SEC West team.

Matt Bush-USA TODAY Sports

I'm not going to beat around the bush: It took me the entire weekend to get over the loss to the Auburn Tigers.

I felt that Kentucky had the better team, they just didn't execute near the end and there were too many dropped passes in the second half. It was a missed opportunity to put a stamp on a special season.

Now I'm not saying that opportunity is lost, there is still a lot of football left to be played. But the road that Kentucky has to travel from here on out is exponentially more difficult than it was to start.

A road game against the Mississippi State Bulldogs is about as tough as it gets in the SEC. The fans will be rabid in Starkville for a 7:30 PM kickoff and the cowbells jangling will be in full effect. The Bulldogs have a veteran team led by Dak Prescott at quarterback, a guy that the Wildcats have had almost no success against.

Let's get to know the Mississippi State Bulldogs:

School: Mississippi State University

Location: Starkville, Mississippi (Stark-Vegas)

Enrollment: 20,182

Celebrity Alumni/Attendees: John Grisham (author), Vick Ballard (NFL running back)

Mascot: Bully the Bulldog. Not related to UGA the Bulldog.

Head Coach: Dan Mullen (51-33)

2015 Record: 5-2, 1-2

Current Ranking: #41 according to the real time RPI (Kentucky is #49)

Vegas Says: Mississippi State -11

Bulldog Offense: This offense is focused around senior quarterback Dak Prescott. He is leading the team in passing yards (1,700) and is second in rushing yards (254). He does it all for them, and he's one of the best players in the nation that nobody is talking about. When he is on, he is devastating on offense and the Wildcats have been on the receiving end of some major punishment from Prescott.

They are scoring 34 points a game and Prescott is passing for 283 yards a game which is good enough for third in the SEC. Prescott's primary target is De'Runnya Wilson. He leads the team with 433 yards and five touchdown receptions. Junior Fred Ross has been good for 422 yards and a touchdown. This is a veteran receiving core paired with a veteran quarterback with an offensive mastermind in Dan Mullen calling the plays. Kentucky's defense is going to be tested mightily.

The Bulldogs use a plethora of players to run the ball with Prescott, Brandon Halloway, Ashton Shumpert, and even De'Runnya Wilson. Without a steady go-to running back, they rank 11th in the SEC in rushing but don't let that fool you. If Prescott gets a feel for the ground and can see the holes developing, he will tuck it and kill the defense with his legs.

They have the 8th overall ranked offense in the SEC and will be the best offensive unit the 'Cats have seen thus far. The defense is going to have to be extremely disciplined with Prescott behind center. In his career against Kentucky, he's passed for 484 yards and three touchdowns with one interception, and he's rushed for 153 yards and two touchdowns. He's a menace.

Bulldog Defense: In total defense the 'Dogs are 8th in the SEC with an emphasis on their passing defense, yielding 190.8 yards per game.Their rush defense is 8th, giving up 170.2 yards per game. They are only giving up 18 points per game, which is good for 22nd in the nation.

The Wildcats looked great in the passing game against Auburn, and Patrick Towles had one of his best games throwing for 359 yards. He did not throw for a touchdown, but there were many dropped passes in and around the end zone.

One of the facets of the game that was working for Kentucky against Auburn and that can work against Mississippi State is the utilization of Stanley 'Boom' Williams. Boom rushed for 113 yards and two scores against Auburn, but was left out of the game plan for most of the second quarter. Williams can be a huge factor on the road and he will need to be involved early and often.

Likely Outcome: Dak Prescott has yet to throw a pick this season and he's been very good with his decision making. If he can play at a high level, then the Bulldogs have a great chance at winning this game. He's not going to be intimidated or nervous about Kentucky's defense.

The 'Cats and the Dogs are 21-21 all time against one another, but State has one the last six meetings between the two teams.

The only losses they have this season are a 21-19 squeaker against LSU in Starkville and a 30-17 beating at Texas A&M. They also defeated Auburn 17-9 at Auburn.

The Bulldogs are 14-3 at home dating back to 2013. And those two losses came at the hands of LSU this season, LSU in 2013, and Alabama in 2013,

I think it's going to be extremely difficult for Kentucky to go into Starkville on a Saturday night and come out with a win.

Mississippi State 35-Kentucky Wildcats 24