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Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee: Preview, viewing info, list of seniors being honored

Senior Day will see some of the program’s all-time greats play their final home game at Kroger Field.

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Josh Allen Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

The Kentucky Wildcats finish off their home season Saturday when they host the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders.

This will be the last time 16 seniors play at Kroger Field, including several players who will go down as some of the program’s all-time greats at their respective positions.

Here are the seniors being celebrated this weekend:

  • #41 Josh Allen, Outside Linebacker
  • #64 “Big” George Asafo-Adjei, Offensive Tackle
  • #8 Derrick Baity, Cornerback
  • #2 Dorian Baker, Wide Receiver
  • #33 David Bouvier, Wide Receiver
  • #95 Miles Butler, Kicker
  • #87 C.J. Conrad, Tight End
  • #98 Tymere Dubose, Defensive Tackle
  • #7 Mike Edwards, Safety
  • #6 Lonnie Johnson Jr., Cornerback
  • #34 Jordan Jones, Linebacker
  • #99 Adrian Middleton, Defensive Tackle
  • #65 Bunchy Stallings, Offensive Guard
  • #25 Darius West, Safety
  • #21 Chris Westry, Cornerback
  • #42 Tristan Yeomans, Long snapper

The last dance

Kentucky will look to send these seniors out in style in their final home game against a very solid Middle Tennessee squad. Considering the dumpster fire that is Louisville football it may very well be the Cats biggest challenge remaining to end the regular season.

The Blue Raiders are 7-3 and in first place of Conference USA’s east division. MTSU has played two other SEC opponents this year, losing 35-7 to Vanderbilt in the season opener, followed by a blow-out loss loss to Georgia on 9/15. Other than those two games, MTSU, led by head coach Rick Stockstill, have had a hell of a season becoming bowl eligible before the month of November.

All things considered, this is still a great season for Kentucky and a nine-win season is there for the taking. A big-time bowl may have been wiped off the table after being blown out by the Vols, but there is still plenty to play for in these last two games of 2018.

Who is MTSU?

As mentioned above, the Blue Raiders are a good team that will make a bowl this season and could very well put up a challenge for Mark Stoops’ team, even in Kroger Field. MTSU head coach Rick Stockstill was a Florida State quarterback under coach Bobby Bowden from 1977 to 1981, so he knows what it’s like to play at a very high level. He has been the coach at MTSU since 2005, which is like a million years in coaching years these days.

To make his ties to the program even stronger, his son, Brent Stockstill is the Blue Raiders quarterback and holds most of the programs passing records. After Kentucky’s performance on the road in Knoxville a passing attack is worrisome considering how the Vols exposed the Cats secondary.

On the season, Stockstill completes nearly 70% of his passes, which is an incredible stat. Ty Lee and and Patrick Smith are the main receiving targets, each catching over 40 passes for 400+ yards on the year.

Mike Edwards and other members of the Kentucky secondary did not have a good showing last week so adjustments need to be made to contain a proven senior at quarterback.

The Blue Raiders rushing attack is very balanced with 4 players who have rushed the ball 50 times or more this season, including Brent Stockstill who has scrambled out of the pocket 84 times scoring two touchdowns.

Middle Tennessee state handily beat UTEP on Saturday for their 7th win of the season. Although UTEP is one of the worst teams in Conference USA it still provided an extra lift for the Blue Raiders as they prepare for their trip to Lexington.

This is unlike the deflating feeling the Cats must have left Knoxville with. Hopefully, the home crowd can give this team a much needed boost in what will be Josh Allen and others’ last game inside Kroger Field.

The season mantra has been for Kentucky to rely on their defense but Saturday in Knoxville showed that even they are vulnerable to having a bad game. There definitely needs to be modifications this week or even a mid-major team like MTSU will expose the Wildcats. Reality came knocking very quickly in the loss to Tennessee, but there is nothing to do now but move forward and attempt to show progress.

Can UK get anything going on offense?

Although Terry Wilson and crew showed some signs of life in the second half against Tennessee, the fact of the matter is that Kentucky has looked cringe-worthy on offense for several weeks in a row. It’s like Benny Snell is a square peg and Eddie Gran constantly is trying to jam it in a round hole.

In the offensive coordinators defense, other than Lynn Bowden nobody has exactly stepped up and provided any consistent contribution that would give confidence enough for a play call. The defense is stacked against the hand-off to Benny Snell and it just seems like Terry Wilson makes it through one, maybe two reads on his progression then just panics and dances in the pocket. In the third quarter on a first down, Wilson stayed in the pocket and delivered a laser to CJ Conrad for a touchdown. That is the type of effort that is needed to get the offense on a better trajectory before MTSU and a bowl game.

The most frustrating part of all of this is that, for the most part, the Kentucky defense has been so dominant and the offense just hasn’t reciprocated. It was a team effort in getting beat down in Knoxville so both sides of the ball will have to show substantial improvement on Saturday.

Middle Tennessee State (7-3) at Kentucky Wildcats (7-3)

Game time: 12:00 pm EST on Nov. 17

TV Channel: SEC Network Alternate Channel

Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky

Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington. You can listen to an online radio stream via UK Athletics.

Online Stream: You can watch it online using Watch ESPN, the Watch ESPN app and fuboTV. You can listen to an online radio stream via UK Athletics.

Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings)

Odds: Kentucky opened as a 14-point favorite. The spread has since grown to 16.5 in some sportsbooks. Kentucky is 0-4 against the spread when favored this season, so bet at your own peril. The over/under is 46.5.

Prediction: TeamRankings projects a 31-16 win for the Wildcats. numberFire is going with a 32-14 win for the home team.