Eastern Michigan Eagles (1-0) at Kentucky Wildcats (1-0)
- Date: Saturday, September 7
- Game Time: 7:30 PM EST
- Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky
- TV Channel: SEC Network Alternate
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM and 98.1 FM in Lexington.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Online Stream: WatchESPN
- Odds: Kentucky is a 15.5-point favorite
- Replay: WatchESPN
- Rosters: UK | EMU
- Weekend Weather Report
- Live Stats
While we wait for the game, check out the latest hype video from the UK Sports Network:
After taking care of business in their opener vs Toledo, Kentucky gets another test from the MAC in an Eastern Michigan team that also tasted victory in Week 1.
The Cats will be back in action at Kroger Field on Saturday at 7:30 pm. The later game time should be welcomed by most fans considering temperatures exceeded 90 degrees in UK’s 38-24 victory over the Toledo Rockets.
This game will serve as Kentucky’s annual Heroes’ Day event, which honors armed forces and first responders. You can read more about the festivities here.
This will be Kentucky’s second game in as many weeks against a team from the MAC’s West Division. EMU was voted in the preseason to finish 4th in their division with Toledo picked to win it.
The Eagles actually beat the Rockets last year, but by far their biggest win was a 20-19 shocker at Purdue. As much hype as Toledo was getting in the preseason (including being ranked ahead of Kentucky in one poll), it may end up being EMU who’s the bigger test for the Cats.
EMU travels to Lexington after weathering some early game woes themselves. The Eagles struggled in the first quarter against Coastal Carolina, they found themselves down 10-0 before ultimately pulling away for a 30-23 win.
Even with a shaky start, EMU showed that they have weapons on both sides of the ball. Offensively they are led by senior quarterback Mike Glass III who went 20/22 for 188 yards and 3 touchdowns on Saturday. He was a perfect 11-11 in the first half and has now played in five straight games without throwing an interception.
With a secondary that is still unproven, UK will have their hands full with an experienced player like Glass under center. The rotation of defensive backs will continue to be something to watch over the next few games as UK is still searching to determine which players can execute.
Brandin Echols was a guy that stepped up and made plays against Toledo and could find himself getting a more opportunities. Jamari Brown was who got the start over Echols, and while Brown struggled in the first half, he played well in the second half. Those two coming on is a big key to UK’s secondary holding up against EMU and the upcoming SEC slate.
The EMU defense flexed their muscles by tallying 4 total interceptions on Saturday. The Eagle defense also gave up just 74 yards rushing in 30 attempts (2.5 yards-per-carry), held the Chanticleers to a 37.5% third-down conversion rate, and allowed only three trips into the red zone.
After one week of play, EMU is tied for first nationally in interceptions, ranks fifth nationally in turnover margin, sixth nationally in turnovers gained, and sits at 31st nationally in redzone defense. The Eagles did give up 378 total yards, 304 of them coming through the air. UK started to execute on offense much better in the second half of their opening week victory.
Terry Wilson should have the opportunity to spread the ball around to multiple receivers once again as he threw for 246 yards and two scores. It was just the second time he’s thrown for over 200 yards and two scores in the same game. UK needs Wilson to have a big junior season to not only get back to the postseason, but also have a winning record in SEC play for just the second time since 1977.
Week 1 wasn’t the prettiest of wins but UK still won by 14 points despite not playing anywhere near their best football. Saturday’s match-up with EMU will provide UK another chance to tune up before SEC play begins in a few weeks.
When the Eagles and Wildcats square off Saturday, Sept. 7, it will be for just the second time in the respective schools’ histories. In the first matchup in 2017, it was UK who prevailed, 24-20.
The game was highlighted by an Eastern defense that allowed just 228 yards of total offense, including just 53 Wildcat rushing yards. Although EMU outgained UK 312- 228, the Wildcats outscored Eastern, 10-6, in the second half to claim victory. Still, it came down to the final possession where it took a Mike Edwards interception in the end zone to clinch a victory for the Cats.
It might normally be hard for UK not to look ahead to the monster clash with Florida in Week 3, but the Cats have made it clear they’re taking the Eagles more seriously in Round 2. Let’s hope that’s the case, as the Cats must bring their A game to ensure the Eagles don’t pull off a huge road upset over a Power 5 team for a second-straight year.