Last weekend, there wasn’t a more excited fan base than the Big Blue Nation. The Kentucky Wildcats entered The Swamp to face the Florida Gators as two-touchdown underdogs, only to come out victorious by a score of 27-16.
The Wildcats now sit at 2-0 on the season, which includes a season-opening win over a tough Central Michigan team along with a defeat of a ranked team.
This Saturday, the Wildcats will make their return to their home turf for the first of a three game home-stand. Their first opponent will be the Murray State Racers, followed by the 16th-ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs and then the South Carolina Gamecocks.
While the ladder matchups are certainly more intriguing, Kentucky must handle their business with the Racers first. The Cats have slept on most of their opponents, explaining the reason why they’re 3-7 against the spread in their last two games.
One of the key matchups in this game will be special teams. Murray State leads the OVC in net punting at 39.73 yards per kick and ranks 18th nationally. The Racers have posted seven fair catches and allowed just two return yards. Kentucky hasn’t been able to get their return game going thus far, something they need to do with a brutal SEC slate upcoming.
Murray State quarterback Drew Anderson, a transfer from Buffalo, has completed nearly 55 percent of his attempts for 335 yards and a TD, including 209 yards last week. The Racers rank fifth in OVC passing at 197.5 yards per contest, but to push Kentucky, they must get more from their running game, which is averaging just 71.5 yards per contest.
On the other side, the Wildcats have dominated the line of scrimmage thus far. That was on full display at Florida, where Kentucky outrushed the Gators 303-128. Kentucky’s 301-yard rushing average is one fewer than SEC-leading Mississippi State and has not allowed a sack. Junior running back Benny Snell Jr. ranks third in SEC rushing at 150 yards per contest.
“Our A No. 1 is stop the run. It’ll be quite a challenge for our defense and we know going into it,” Murray State head coach Mitch Stewart said on this week’s OVC coaches teleconference.. “Their quarterback runs a little bit too so they have the ability to play with two running backs all the time and play with 11 offensively.”
Kentucky is favored by 40-43 points to win this game, depending on what sportsbook you use. ESPN Football Power Index currently gives Kentucky a 99.3% chance to achieve victory.
If you’re looking to throw down some bets on this game, here are some recent trends to know for both teams:
- Murray State is 1-8 ATS in its last 9 games
- Murray State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games
- Murray State is 1-8 ATS in its last 9 games on the road
- Murray State is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
- Kentucky is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games
- Kentucky is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games at home
- Kentucky is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games at home
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 5 games at home
OddsShark predicts a score of 27-1 in favor of Kentucky, with a spread set at 25.5 in favor of the Wildcats. Yes, 27-1 is their predicted outcome.
CBS Sports also predicts a Kentucky victory in Saturday. Who could’ve guessed?
Mark Story of the Herald-Leader predicts a final score of Kentucky 52, Murray State 10.
Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal projects a 45-14 win for the Wildcats.
College Football News projects a 47-13 win for the home team.
The Racers sit at 0-2 on the season, giving up 49 points in their season opener but somewhat improving their defense by allowing 26 in their second week of action. However, they’ve only scored 10 and 13 points, respectfully, and haven’t seen a defense close to what Kentucky puts on the field.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is playing their best football of the Mark Stoops era and a quick victory would be an efficient way to continue their momentum to next week’s matchup with Mississippi State.
The Wildcats are on record saying they’re treating MSU with high respect, preparing for the Racers as they’re any other opponent. The scoreboard on Saturday won’t indicate that, though, as Benny Snell will continue his Heisman campaign en route to a 38-3 victory over the Racers.