Mississippi Bulldogs (3-0, 0-0 in SEC) at Kentucky Wildcats (3-0, 1-0 in SEC)
Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky
Game Time: 7:00 PM EST on Sept 22, 2018
TV Channel: EPSN2
Online Stream: You can stream the game online using Watch ESPN.
Radio: The UK radio team of Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel will have the radio call on the UK Sports Network.
Weather: 64° and cloudy with a 60-percent chance of rain during the game. Make sure you bring rain gear to this game.
Replay: SEC Network (check local listings) and ESPN+
Odds: Mississippi State opened as a 10.5-point favorite. The line has shifted between 9 and 11.5 points this week.
Prediction: Check out our roundtable for predictions on the game.
While we wait for tonight’s big game, here’s a hype video to get you pumped up:
The Wildcats are off to arguably their best start in the Mark Stoops era, but they’ll face their biggest test thus far when the Mississippi St. Bulldogs come to Kroger Field in Week 4.
Thanks to a 3-0 start with a win at Florida — ending the 31-game losing streak — things are looking as good as they ever have in Lexington under Stoops, who appears to be on the verge of taking this program to another level, something he can accomplish today with a win over the 14th-ranked Bulldogs. However, this will likely end up being the second-best team the Cats face this year, trailing only third-ranked Georgia later this season.
Under first-year head coach, Joe Moorhead, Mississippi State has scored 150 points through the first three games of the season. The Bulldogs are No. 9 nationally in scoring offense (50 points per game) and No. 6 in scoring defense, holding opponents to 8.7 points per game.
That high-scoring offense will test this Kentucky defense who has only given up about 15 points per game, while the defense will be a stiff challenge for a Wildcats offense averaging 36.7 points per game on the strength of 282.33 rushing yards per game.
Something will have to give when these two teams meet on Saturday night.
After the 45-7 blowout loss in Starkville last year, this collision course with Mississippi State has been circled on Kentucky’s calendar for a long time.
The Run Game
The Mississippi State defense has been nothing short of stellar in the limiting their opponents run game. In three games, the Bulldogs have only given up 255 total yards on the ground.
For perspective, the Kentucky backfield has averaged almost 30 more yards per game to open the season. This will obviously be the biggest key to the game for both teams. Will Benny Snell be able to get things going against a defense who is littered with NFL talent?
Snell had this to say on the Bulldogs after Saturday’s victory over Murray State.
“I’m gonna run on any team. You could be an NFL team. It don’t matter. This offense don’t fear nobody. This is a good opponent. We’re not going to change any plans.
“Everything is different. Defense has to get some stops, and we’ve (offense) got to move the ball. They (Mississippi State) have a good defensive line up front. I know that for sure.”
Snell is going to get his chance to immediately back up these comments, because Mississippi State is loaded with NFL-caliber talent on the defensive side of the ball, especially up front.
Montez Sweat and Jeffrey Simmons are two of the best defensive linemen in the country and are a huge reason why the Bulldogs have been so effective against their opponents’ rushing games.
The good news for Kentucky is that they continue to show different looks in the run game by getting Terry Wilson and A.J. Rose involved. Four different players scored a rushing touchdown for the Cats on Saturday against Murray State.
As good as Mississippi State has been, and they have been great, they have also not seen a back anywhere near as talented as Benny Snell.
The Bulldog Offense
Matt House’s defense has been solid during the first three games of the 2018 season. The Cats have yet to give up more than 20 points in a game but their opponent this week will present a major challenge.
The quarterback for Mississippi State, Nick Fitzgerald, accounted for 350 yards and six total touchdowns against Louisiana-Lafayette on Saturday, including four on the ground. He is now in elite company as one of only three players in the last 20 years of the SEC with multiple four-touchdown rushing games.
It is no secret that dual-threat quarterbacks have presented a tough challenge for Kentucky teams in the past. Slowing down this Bulldog offense is going to be a tall task. The Cats will not only have to worry about Fitzgerald but also a talented sophomore running back in Kylin Hill, who has rushed for 293 yards and three touchdowns this season on 32 total attempts. Aeris Williams just ran for 101 yards and a score on just 11 runs against Louisiana-Lafayette.
Paging Kash Daniel, paging Kash Daniel. Kentucky will be looking for the punishing linebacker to make a statement on Saturday and help stop this Bulldog offense.