There’s not much more to say that hasn’t already been said.
After an embarrassing loss to South Carolina the rug has been pulled out from under Kentucky Wildcats football fans.
The idea of a truly special season is fading fast, but there are still six games left on the schedule with all of them being important.
Next up for Kentucky will the red-hot Mississippi State Bulldogs, led by their lovable head coach, Mike Leach.
By now, you’re probably used to the night kickoffs at Kroger Field, and Saturday’s game will be no different. The SEC Network will have the coverage beginning at 7:30 pm ET.
The storyline heading into this game will be the status of UK quarterback Will Levis, who missed last week’s game with a lower-leg injury.
By all indications, it looks like Levis should return to action against Mississippi State on Saturday night.
In his absence, redshirt freshman Kaiya Sheron threw for 178 yards, two touchdowns and one interception in last week’s loss to South Carolina. His play was serviceable, but the offense as a whole is clearly throttled considerably when Levis isn’t under center.
On Tuesday, UK offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello made some powerful comments concerning what fans can expect to see moving forward from his group of guys. The first year OC isn’t panicking or changing course after taking heavy criticism following UK’s double-digit loss to an inferior opponent.
“It just takes focus. A little more effort and detail and better coaching on our part and I think this week we’ll come out and put a hell of a product on the field.” Scangarello told reporters.
Much was made of Chris Rodriguez’s limited usage in the second half, so I would expect his workload to remain heavy with more consistent touches as the game progresses.
This game won’t allow of Kentucky to just focus on themselves and what they need to do.
Slowing down the fast-paced offense of the 5-1 Bulldogs has proven to be a challenge that most teams aren’t prepared for.
MSU quarterback Will Rogers is quietly having a brilliant year, already racking up over 200 completions and 2,110 yards.
The next closest SEC quarterback is Georgia’s Stetson Bennett, who only has 138 completions and is nearly 400 yards short of Rogers’ totals.
Every other QB in the conference has 98 completions or fewer.
Now, let it sink in that Rogers has tossed 22 touchdowns while only throwing three interceptions through six games, and the idea of avoiding a three-game losing skid gets very scary.
Kentucky’s defense had been playing pretty much lights out all season long before laying a clunker of a second half against South Carolina.
Was Brad White’s defense simply due for a bad few quarters, or are real issues beginning to glare?
Saturday night will be a monumental test for the UK defense. If they don’t come to play, things will get out of hand in a hurry.
MSU is blistering the scorecard week after week earning them a near 38 point per game average, including 32 ppg in SEC play.
Their lone loss came at the hands of LSU in Baton Rouge, and it took a 21-0 effort from the Tigers in the fourth quarter to get it done.
With the struggles that UK’s offense has shown it’ll be critical to keep this one close and not allow Will Rogers to put unanswered points up on the board.
The punishing Mike Leach air assault isn’t the only thing the Cats have to contend with offensively. That lethal passing game effortlessly opens up rushing opportunities and MSU splits workload between a pair of junior running-backs.
Dillon Johnson has rushed 67 times for 402 yards and three scores, while Jo’quavious Marks isn’t far behind with 52 carries for 245 yards and five touchdowns.
In their last outing against Arkansas, Johnson carried the ball 17 times and Marks was right there behind him with a near identical 16 touches. The duo scored five total TDs against the Razorbacks.
Mississippi State with travel to Lexington with back-to-back convincing wins over Texas A&M and Arkansas.
The Bulldogs are playing some of the best football in America, while Kentucky looked horrendous on Saturday as lingering issues continue to mount.
Even the most optimistic member of the Big Blue Nation has to face the hard reality that major changes are needed if the Cats are even going to be competitive on Saturday night inside Kroger Field.
The pieces are all there. It’s just going to take 60 minutes of concentrated effort on both sides of the ball, and heck, maybe even some special teams execution for good measure.
There’s still tons left to play for this season, but coming up with a win as the underdog on Saturday night is a crucial component to keep spirits high in the Bluegrass.
Time: 7:30 pm ET on October 15th, 2022
Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky.
TV Channel: SEC Network
Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic
Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro have the UK radio network call on 630AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and the UK Sports Network.
Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings for replay schedule).
Weather: Considerable cloudiness with occasional rain showers. Lows near 50F. Winds SW at 10-15 mph. Chance of rain 18%, per Weather.com.
Score Projection: TeamRankings projects a 26-23 win for Mississippi State.
Here’s a look back at Kentucky’s last win over Mississippi State from the 2020 season.