With the Kentucky Wildcats looking to win in Starkville for the first time since 2008, here are five players to watch Saturday between the Cats and Mississippi State Bulldogs.
#1. Devin Leary
Devin Leary had his best game at Kentucky last week against Tennessee, completing nearly 72% of his passes for 372 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
It was the type of performance the Big Blue Nation has been looking for out of the QB this season, so it will be interesting to see how Leary follows it up this week on the road.
The Bulldogs rank 11th in the SEC in passing yards allowed, with opposing offenses averaging 238.5 passing yards per game. The Bulldogs have given up 14 passing touchdowns this season as well.
Kentucky’s quarterbacks have not fared well in Starkville over the last few seasons. In five trips to Starkville under Mark Stoops, Kentucky is averaging about 185 yards passing with two touchdowns compared to nine interceptions.
Leary will likely need to reverse that trend for the Cats to break this streak.
#2. Ray Davis
Sticking with offense here, as Kentucky will need to find a way to get Ray Davis going against the Bulldogs Saturday night.
Davis had his lowest rushing total of the season last Saturday against Tennessee, rushing for just 42 yards on a season-low 2.6 yards per carry.
The Tennessee defense committed to stopping the run and was able to slow Davis down, although he was still able to find the end zone.
Davis has a chance to get back on track this Saturday against a Bulldog defense that’s allowing about 135 rushing yards per game, which ranks 9th in the conference.
Leary’s performance may make Zach Arnett, Matt Brock, and the Mississippi State coaching staff think twice about selling out to stop the run.
Hopefully, Davis will be able to get back on track this weekend.
#3. Maxwell Hairston
The Kentucky defensive back will likely be matched up with Mississippi State receiver Lideatrick Griffin on most of the snaps Saturday night.
Griffin has been the biggest threat at wide receiver for the Bulldogs this season, with a couple of big performances this season.
Against Arizona earlier this season, Griffin went for five catches for 83 yards and a pair of touchdowns, but against South Carolina, he had one of the best receiver performances of the season, catching seven passes for 256 yards and a touchdown.
Hairston has played well this season, and he’ll be tasked with making sure Griffin doesn’t have a standout performance on Saturday.
#4 and 5: Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson
To wrap this up, these two Mississippi State linebackers will be worth keeping an eye on.
Nathaniel Watson and Jett Johnson are two of the best defenders on this Bulldogs squad and two of the best in the conference.
Jett leads the conference in tackles with 84, but his teammate Watson is right behind with 80 tackles on the season.
Watson leads the SEC in sacks with 7.5 on the season, and Johnson has four.
Johnson also has a pair of forced fumbles on the season, along with a pair of interceptions.
Needless to say, Watson and Johnson lead this Bulldog defense, and Kentucky will have to find a way to limit their impact, particularly in the pass rush and creating turnovers.
We’re also going to take a look at some quick prop bets to consider on Saturday from our friends at DraftKings:
- Ray Davis rushing TDs over/under of 0.5: The over is -220 and under is +160.
- Barion Brown receiving TDs over/under of 0.5: The over is +220 and under is -275
- Dane Key receiving TDs over/under of 0.5: The over is +200 and under is -290
- Devin Leary passing TDs over/under of 1.5: The over is +105 and under is -140
- Ray Davis rushing yards over/under of 100.5: The over is -115 and under is -115.
Odds/lines subject to change. T&Cs apply. See draftkings.com/sportsbook for details.