By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State is quite familiar with its SEC East opponent today.
The Bulldogs have played Kentucky for 26 consecutive seasons and have enjoyed six straight wins over the Wildcats.
MSU (5-2, 1-2 SEC) has an opportunity to take back the overall lead in the series when the two teams meet at 6:30 p.m. on SEC Network.
• Today's game: vs. Kentucky, 6:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
“They’re our locked opponent across the division,” said MSU quarterback Dak Prescott. “We play them every year. They’re a team that’s kind of trying to do what we did last year and are getting done here. They’re not very far off. They’re a good football team.”
Kentucky enters tonight’s contest at 4-2 and a 2-2 mark in conference play. Much of the Wildcats success can be credited to quarterback Patrick Towles. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound junior has completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,512 yards, eight touchdowns and seven interceptions while also adding three rushing scores.
“You just see a guy that plays with an awful lot of confidence and swagger out there on the field,” said MSU coach Dan Mullen. “He has the talent to make things happen but he also has that emotional leadership and is a fiery guy that the team really needs to rally around behind him.”
Towles had a huge game against the Bulldogs in a 45-31 loss in Lexington last year. Towles accounted for 477 yards and four touchdowns in the game.
“He lit us up last year,” Mullen said. “He had what I imagine is still the best day of his career against us last year. I got to see it live and in person.”
Towles guided the Wildcats’ offense to 504 yards in that 2014 contest throwing for 390 yards and had touchdown tosses of 67 and 58 yards.
His efforts certainly caught the attention of new MSU defensive coordinator Manny Diaz.
“It all comes back to the explosive pass play,” Diaz said. “A lot of his yards were some big time, chunk plays down the field whether it was getting behind all the coverage or short throws that turned into long gainers. That’s been a battle cry for our secondary all season not to allow the ball behind us and not allowing explosive plays.”
The Bulldogs could be a bit more vulnerable in the secondary as cornerback Will Redmond is believed to have suffered a substantial knee injury which could possibly keep him out the remainder of the season.
Redmond leads State with two interceptions and serves as a team captain.
MSU will not release any injury information until moments before kickoff tonight.