The lead up to this game has been all about bounce back and quarterbacks. Last week both teams ended up losing in very close games and will look to keep from turning one loss into two. Tommy Stevens is the senior signal caller for the Bulldogs and has been battling a shoulder injury since the week 2 win over Southern Miss. In his absence Garrett Shrader has stepped in and played well while not throwing the ball very accurately. I expect Stevens to play and play most of the game. The Mississippi State offense is based of their power run game led by Kylin Hill. Hill leads the SEC with 431 yards through 3 games and is 2nd in rushing attempts. So, it should be no secret what State plans to do on Saturday.
Kentucky has its own quarterback drama with Sawyer Smith starting his 2nd game after Terry Wilson went down in week 2. Last week Smith played well enough to put us in a position to win and should improve as the season goes along. The key on offense for Kentucky will be controlling the sticks and putting ourselves in favorable position on 2nd and 3rd downs. On defense Mississippi State’s strength counters Kentucky’s strength. Kentucky’s rush defense was impressive in the loss to Florida and without the 76 yard run at the end of the game when Kentucky was in a zero coverage all out blitz, they would have only allowed 62 yards rushing. If Kentucky’s front seven can get that production on Saturday, the Wildcats will win.
Heat will be a factor with expected temps in the 90s, this will be difficult for the secondary of Kentucky if they have issues with cramps. I expect this to be a game of time possession and defense and I think it’ll be close. The Bulldogs have the home field advantage but Kentucky will have an advantage in match ups. I think that’ll be the deciding factor and I believe Kentucky comes away with a win in Starkville. This will be the 47th game in this series and it will be a tie-breaker with both teams holding 23 wins. In the last 10 years Kentucky is 2-8 with those 2 wins coming in the last 3 games. The Wildcats have undoubtedly turned the corner as a program and are now in a position to play against anybody.