It’s safe to say that this week is huge for Kentucky football. The Cats are all alone in second place of the SEC East, and are completely in control of their own destiny. On top of that, they’re one good win away from cracking the top 25 of the Coaches and AP polls. Oh, and a win gives the Cats bowl eligibility for the second straight year, which has become a bit of a forgotten goal with how much success UK has had this year.
The problem is they face arguably their toughest opponent yet this season in Mississippi State, who opened as a 10-point favorite against the Cats this week.
Here’s what you need to know about each team this week.
- The all-time series is tied 22-22.
- Mark Stoops is looking for just his second win against Mississippi State. He’s currently 1-3 against the Bulldogs as Kentucky’s head coach.
- UK won last year’s matchup, 40-38 in Lexington.
- Kentucky ranks seventh in the nation in turnover margin at +8.
- Kentucky ranks 10th nationally in run defense, allowing 97.2 yards per game.
- Stephen Johnson snagged his 10th win as a starter against Missouri. He’ll now be looking for No. 11.
- Johnson is tied for the third-most game-winning fourth quarter drives in school history with four.
- Johnson is also fifth in school history in passing touchdowns of more than 40 yards (since 1955) with eight.
- Benny Snell is currently fifth in the SEC in rushing YPG (87.2 ypg).
- After surpassing Lones Seiber as the all-time points leader at UK, MacGinnis now sits second in the SEC in field goals made with 13, and seventh in the nation in field goals per game.
- MacGinnis was also the Lou Groza Star of the Week after breaking Seiber’s record.
- Garrett “Juice” Johnson is two catches away from breaking into the top 10 on the all-time school receptions list (currently has 134 career receptions).
- Juice is also 456 receiving yards away from tying Derek Abney for third on the school’s all-time receiving yards list.
- A win would give Kentucky a 6-1 start, its best start since 2007.
- A win would also be UK’s first vistory at Mississippi State since 2008.
- This could also be UK’s fourth straight road win, their first four-game road winning streak since 2009-10.
- MSU is currently 4-2, 1-2 in the SEC.
- The Bulldogs lead the series in Starkville, 12-7.
- Head coach Dan Mullen is 7-1 against Kentucky.
- This is MSU’s homecoming game.
- State is coming off a 35-10 win over BYU last week.
- Sophomore defensive tackle Jeffery Simmons is a two-time SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week this year.
- Junior quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has 60 touchdowns in his career, which is second behind only Dak Prescott on the school’s all-time touchdown list.
- MSU redshirt freshman kicker Jace Christmann leads the SEC in field goal percentage. He’s 5-5, 100% this year.
- Junior running back Aeris Williams ranks fourth in the SEC in rushing YPG (87.2).
- MSU’s defense is top 10 in the nation in total defense, passing defense and first down defense.
- MSU has allowed only three sacks all year, the fewest allowed by any team in the SEC.
- This will be a homecoming for Bunchy Stallings, who is from Mississippi.
- Naquez Pringle went to community college in Mississippi before committing to UK.
- Mississippi State’s cornerbacks coach, Terrell Buckley, worked with UK receivers coach Lamar Thomas at Louisville and head coach Mark Stoops at Florida State.
- MSU athletic director John Cohen was previously Kentucky’s baseball coach (2004-08).