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Early Kentucky football preview: Mississippi State

Mark Stoops has yet to win in Starkville

Kentucky v Mississippi State Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images

Today we preview Kentucky’s 8th game and 3rd road game: a trip to Starkville, Mississippi to face Mike Leach’s cowbell-ringing Bulldogs.

Things don’t look good for Kentucky here. They’ve never won on the Hail State turf under Stoops, with their last win there coming under Rich Brooks in ‘08. This game also caps a brutal four-game stretch of Florida, LSU, @Georgia, and now @MSU.

The Wildcats rolled over Mississippi State last year 24-2, stifling the Air Raid in Lexington, but I know Mike Leach won’t go down as easily the second time around. UK vs MSU always depends on whose hosting.

The Wildcats have won the last three games in Lexington but lost the last six in Starkville. Those games haven’t really been that close either. Their most recent trip was only a 28-13 loss, and I don’t think either team will run away from the other in this one.

Mississippi State will also have some momentum after following up a demolition of Missouri in the 2020 season finale with a bowl win over Tulsa. While the Bulldogs looked like pushovers when they couldn’t score double-digits for most of last season, I’d be surprised to see the Air Raid stifled like that again, especially after a full offseason of practices and preparation.

A few facts about Kentucky football: they almost always lose in Starkville, they almost always lose right after playing Georgia, and they almost always struggle with back-to-back SEC road games late in the year. I don’t think they are going to win this one. It is certainly within their reach, but this is not the kind of game they’ve yet shown they can win.

One X-factor that might flip the script—interceptions. The Wildcats were tremendous at snagging picks last year, and some more pick-sixes in Mississippi would shoot down the Air Raid.

Prediction: Mississippi State 30, Kentucky 24