On Saturday afternoon Kentucky hits the road for the first time this season heading to Starkville. In doing so they have to put yet another tough loss to Florida behind them. Can they get a big road win? Let’s break down the match up with our Kentucky at Mississippi State preview.
Kentucky At Mississippi State Preview
Putting Florida In The Rear View Mirror
For the fourth time in the last six years Mark Stoops’ squad not only outplayed the Gators for three quarters but dominated them. However yet again the Cats let Dan Mullen’s club escape by allowing 19 unanswered points in a 29-21 loss.. If you are counting at home that makes 32 losses in the last 33 games to Florida. The “curse of the back up quarterback” once again bit the Cats as Kyle Trask replaced an injured Feleipe Franks to rally them to victory.
In talking to the media this week the UK head man says “they cleared the air” over the game and “are ready to move on.” However you have to wonder will their be a hangover following the loss. Unfortunately playing in the SEC there’s no time to feel sorry for yourself as playing in Starkville is one of the toughest places in the conference.
Scouting The Bulldogs
Joe Moorhead’s team comes into Saturday with a 2-1 record. They began the season with wins over Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Mississippi. However last week they were upset at home 31-24 by Kansas State. Muck like Kentucky the Bulldogs were up a touchdown early in the fourth quarter only to see the Wildcats rip off 14 unanswered to pick up the win.
Heading into Saturday the biggest question facing the Bulldogs is the status of starting quarterback Tommy Stevens. His remains uncertain for Saturday after a shoulder injury knocked him out of the previous two games. Against Kansas State he completed seven of 15 passes for 100 yards and a touchdown. However he threw two interceptions and was lifted after the second pick. In his absence freshman Garrett Shrader took over completing four of 12 passes for 51 yards. He did rush 10 times for 82 yards and a score. However he gained more notoriety for his attempt at making a first down.
Garrett Shrader doing his best helicopter impression for Mississippi State pic.twitter.com/fY8kGFvcD4
— Bobby Skinner (@BobbySkinnerNFL) September 14, 2019
Keytaon Thompson could also see time at quarterback for Mississippi State.
On the other side of the ball the Bulldogs defense has been nowhere near as dominant as in years past. Currently they rank 54th in the country giving up 348 yards per game and 25 points which puts them 67th in the country. This against less than stellar competition so far. Of course the fact they lost their entire defensive front to the NFL Draft hasn’t helped. Look for the Cats to have a pretty good day on offense. As we continue our Kentucky at Mississippi State preview let’s now look at the Wildcats.
A Good First Performance And Some Injuries
Of course the Bulldogs aren’t the only club dealing with quarterback issues. Kentucky lost Terry Wilson for the season due to a torn patellar tendon in the win win over Eastern Michigan. Enter Sawyer Smith who played well against a tough Florida defense. Against the Gators the Troy transfer threw for 267 yards and two touchdowns. In addition he ran for another score. However turnovers were a problem as he threw three interceptions and lost a fumble. For the Cats to have any chance to win on Saturday they can’t give the ball up.
Behind Smith look for Kentucky to establish the running game behind A.J. Rose and Kavosiey Smoke. Between the two they have rushed for 443 yards and four touchdowns. When Smith drops back to pass Lynn Bowden is his number one target with 20 catches so far. However Ahmad Wagner is not only becoming that second receiver but quite the option at that. So far in 2019 he has had the ball thrown to him 19 times. Only once has it not yielded a positive result either in a catch or a penalty.
On the other side of the ball the Cats are banged up defensively as they head to Starkville. Defensive tackle Phil Hoskins and safety Taj Dodson are questionable for Saturday due to injury. Another defensive lineman T.J. Carter will miss the first half after being ejected after a questionable targeting penalty against Florida. Kentucky’s totally rebuilt secondary played well in the first two games. However Trask went 12 for 17 for 154 yards and a touchdown in the comeback. Saturday is going to be another tough test for the Wildcats group.
The Last Time They Met And Series History
A season ago Kentucky played arguably their best game of the season in a 28-7 demolition of the Bulldogs. Benny Snell ran for 165 yards and four touchdowns while the Josh Allen led defense held MSU to only 51 yards rushing and 201 yards overall.
The series is tied 23-23 between the permanent SEC rivals who first played all the way back in 1914. Mississippi State has won eight of the last ten however the Cats have won two of the last three.
Who Wins On Saturday?
Stoops says the Cats are ready to move on however a loss like the one to Florida can have a lingering effect on a team. If they don’t show up ready to play then the Bulldogs win easily. However Mississippi State has some big questions to answer on both sides of the ball. If you are looking for a positive the last three times Kentucky has lost in heartbreaking fashion to Florida they’ve won the next week. A win on Saturday puts the Cats squarely in the mix for a really good bowl game. While playing in Starkville and the incessant ringing of the cowbells can be tough look for the Cats to pull out a close win.
Thanks for checking out our Kentucky at Mississippi State preview here at Last Word On College Football. What’s your prediction for the game? Leave a prediction in the comment section below or on my twitter page.