From 0-2 to 2-0, the start to the University of Kentucky Wildcats' football season is drastically better than last years.
With an avenge win at Southern Miss and taking the home opener against Eastern Kentucky, the Wildcats will travel to the South Carolina Gamecocks next Saturday where they will seek their first 3-0 record under Head Coach Mark Stoops. A win at South Carolina would also give Kentucky its fourth straight win against the Gamecocks.
It's been since 2010 when the Cats were 3-0, an accolade that would bring strong momentum back to Lexington for the following week's game against the Florida Gators.
Looking at Saturday
Kentucky closed against EKU as a 34.5 favorite but trailed for 25 of the 30 minutes in the first half. The second half, however, they seemed to find their stride as they held EKU to a single field goal and forced an interception.
The run game began to click and Kentucky was able to swing the time of possession in their favor. However, to beat a better team such as South Carolina (on the road) the Wildcats will have to play a full game and not tell the tale of two halves.
The Wildcats are 3-1 against South Carolina, with the one loss coming on the road. However, the Cats have managed to hang an average of 29 points per contest against the Gamecocks, the most against any SEC opponent in that span.
Last season, the Wildcats front-seven owned the night as the rush attack swung time of possession in Kentucky's favor to win, 17-10.
I look for South Carolina to air it out more than trying to run against Kentucky's LB crew. If the secondary plays like it did against EKU, Kentucky could face trouble. However, Mark Stoops is on record he wanted to keep his game plans as vanilla as possible until SEC play began. Considering SC is an SEC opponent, prepare for Stoops to mix up his scheme a bit more.
For Kentucky, I look for them to try and keep the Gamecock offense off the field as long as possible. The best way to do that is to run the football and play excellent third down defense, both aspects of the game Kentucky excelled with in yesterday's second half.
ESPN's Power Index is currently giving UK less than a 20% chance to win. The early spread has South Carolina favored by 7.5 points, so it’s clear there’s a significant difference between these two teams in the eyes of Vegas. The game will kickoff at 7:30 PM EDT and can be aired on SEC Network.
Stay tuned to ASeaOfBlue.com for more updates throughout the week leading up to Saturday night's matchup.
Here are the updated season stats heading into Week 3, courtesy of UK Athletics: