Mississippi St. Bulldogs (2-1) at Kentucky Wildcats (2-1)
- Game Time: 4 pm EST on Saturday, September 21
- Location: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Mississippi
- TV Channel: SEC Network
- Announcers: Taylor Zarzour and Matt Stinchcomb will be on the call for the SEC Network.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN
- Odds: The Bulldogs are a six-point favorite as of Saturday morning.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Rosters: UK | MSU
- Weekend Weather Report
- Live Stats
- Score Projections: OddsShark has the Bulldogs winning 33-22. TeamRankings projects a 27-21 win for Mississippi State, while numberFire went with a 27-20 Bulldogs win.
While we wait for the game, check out the latest hype video from the UK Sports Network:
The Kentucky Wildcats definitively outplayed a top 10, undefeated Florida Gators team last week for three quarters. Due to a full slate of mishaps, they fell to 2-1 on the season and will now spend the next two weeks on the road trying to regain their swagger.
Their first road test of the season will be this Saturday in Starkville against the Mississippi St. Bulldogs. After unimpressive victories over University of Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Miss, the Bulldogs fell last week to a seemingly inferior Kansas State Wildcats team.
One problem for Mississippi State has been the injury issues with starting quarterback Tommy Stevens. Stevens was knocked out of the game against Southern Miss two weeks ago, and was pulled early in the game against Kansas State due to shoulder issues.
Stevens has completed over 65% of his passes on the season, throwing for 441 yards and five touchdowns in essentially two full games. The offense runs much more smoothly with Stevens on the field, as they have to rely too much on the running game when he is not playing.
Backup Garrett Shrader has only completed 48% of his passes, going 4 for 12 against Kansas State, but does add a rushing component from the quarterback position when he is on the field. He is second on the team in rushing for the season with 98 yards on 19 rushes.
The Bulldogs are led once again in rushing by Kylin Hill. He had a lot to say about Kentucky before last season’s game, where Benny Snell rushed for four touchdowns and Hill was only able to gain 14 yards for the game.
This year, Hill has 431 yards and is averaging 6.6 yards per carry. He has been the most successful part of Mississippi State’s defense. This makes for an interesting match-up against Kentucky’s defensive front. If you take away the 76 yard rush at the end of the game, the Wildcats held Florida to just 62 yards on the ground for the game. That is after allowing only 49 yards to Eastern Michigan.
Mississippi State’s defense has not been particularly impressive, giving up almost 25 points and 140 rushing yards per game. It is difficult to assess what that means for Kentucky, as the Wildcats’ offense is undergoing changes with new signal caller Sawyer Smith at the quarterback position.
Will Kentucky try to establish the offense as a run-first program, or will Smith be able to perform like he did in the first half against Florida and throw the ball all over the field? Some of that may be dictated by what the Bulldogs show on Saturday. But it seems they are vulnerable to the run, so we may see a healthy dose of AJ Rose and Kavosiey Smoke down in Starkville.
Looking at both teams and their performances thus far on the season, I find it really hard to believe the believe that the Bulldogs are such a heavy favorite. While the Wildcats have done nothing spectacular yet this season, Mississippi State has been sub par at best in their first three games.
I see the game as more of a push, although I understand the Bulldogs have quite an advantage at home. The game will likely come down to how much Stevens is able to play for Mississippi State and how well Sawyer Smith is able to avoid costly mistakes on the offensive side of the ball for Kentucky.
Kentucky’s next game after Mississippi State is against South Carolina down in Columbia. To build confidence and keep the fan base appeased, the Wildcats will need to win one of those games. Will they be able to pick up a victory at Starkville? Tune in Saturday afternoon and find out.