The Kentucky Wildcats have started 3-0 for the second straight season as they await a visit from the Mississippi State Bulldogs on Saturday evening. Kentucky is looking for their first 4-0 start under head coach Mark Stoops and will need all the help they can get to do so.
The Bulldogs enter Kroger Field as the country’s 12th-best team, according to the latest AP top-25. Quarterback Nick Fitzgerald has a positive history against the Wildcats, combining to score 83 points in two starts against Kentucky.
The Bulldogs defense is just as talented, though, specifically up front. Their front-7 is one of the better units in the country, let alone the SEC, and their secondary is far from weak.
One advantage Kentucky will have is defensive back Jamal Peters being out for Mississippi State. The veteran has long been in the Bulldogs’ system and his absence should make life a bit easier on Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson.
Speaking of, the Kentucky offense, Heisman Trophy candidate Benny Snell will have to post his best game of the season if the Wildcats hope to upset the Bulldogs. Snell is on pace for career-highs in every category, with most recently receiving NFL draft hype via a mock draft featuring Snell in the second round.
Kentucky can score all the points they want, but if they can’t hold the Bulldogs to less, they won't be satisfied with the outcome. Josh Allen, Kash Daniel & Mike Edwards are just a few of many names that highlight the Kentucky defense. Stoops recruited each and every one of these players, and in the biggest game of their career, he’ll need them all to play well.
Kentucky opened as 11-point underdogs, the first time they’ve been so at home this season. However, money quickly came in on Kentucky as the MGM & Westgate spreads have moved down to nine in favor of the Bulldogs. Bettors also expect this to be a shootout, as the over/under has risen from 54 to 55.5.
Here’s a look at some more betting trends for both squads:
- Mississippi State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
- Mississippi State is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
- Mississippi State is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games on the road
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Mississippi State’s last 5 games on the road
- Kentucky is 3-9 ATS in its last 12 games
- The total has gone OVER in 6 of Kentucky’s last 9 games
- Kentucky is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games at home
- Kentucky is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games at home
- The total has gone OVER in 5 of Kentucky’s last 6 games at home
- Mississippi State is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games when playing Kentucky
- Mississippi State is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games when playing Kentucky
- The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Mississippi State’s last 6 games when playing Kentucky
- Mississippi State is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Kentucky
- Mississippi State is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Kentucky
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Mississippi State’s last 5 games when playing on the road against Kentucky
CBS Sports predicts a Mississippi State cover in a slight edge of a 4/3 vote, but all seven experts are picking the Bulldogs straight up.
CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee thinks Mississippi State wins and covers the spread:
Kentucky will be back on the national stage Saturday night when it takes on a Mississippi State squad that is rolling after three big wins. If you like running backs, this one’s for you. Benny Snell has been a staple in the Wildcats backfield for his entire career, while the duo of Aeris Williams and Kylin Hill lead a punishing Bulldogs attack that is supplemented by dual-threat quarterback Nick Fitzgerald. This one comes down to the battle along the offensive line, and Mississippi State will prove that it’s the contender, Kentucky is the pretender and manage to cover late. Pick: Mississippi State (-10)
Sports Illustrated’s eight-man crew also is going all Mississippi State.
The CatsPause crew is a little more confident in Kentucky:
Chris Fisher: Mississippi State 34, Kentucky 27
Derek Terry: Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 24
Darrell Bird: Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 23
Gary Moyers: Mississippi State 27, Kentucky 24
Josh Edwards: Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 27
OddsShark isn’t leaning on Kentucky either. The site predicts a 43-18 victory by the Bulldogs.
ESPN’s Football Power Index doesn’t see a lot of light for the Wildcats, either, giving them just a 22.1% chance at victory.
TeamRankings projects a 32-24 Bulldogs win, while numberFire projects a 31-18 win for the road team.
Terry Wilson has made drastic improvements since his first start for UK. Benny Snell, as mentioned above, is making his case to be a Heisman finalist and Mark Stoops’s defense is playing better than Kentucky fans have seen in a very long time. With that being said, the Bulldogs don’t present many holes either and don’t vary much when comparing experience between the two rosters. Kentucky will keep it close, but the talent-edge on the field will eventually pull away.
Miss St 31, UK 27