KEYS TO VICTORY
Show some discipline
Mississippi State piled up 16 penalties for 139 yards in last year’s loss to Kentucky. The Bulldogs have drawn the second-fewest flags in the SEC this season and need to maintain that reputation today.
Ground and pound
The Wildcats held Kylin Hill to only four carries for 14 yards last year in Lexington. MSU must find a way to get the ball in the hands of the SEC’s leading rusher early and often and let him do his thing.
Stay healthy Stevens
Bulldog quarterback Tommy Stevens has had to leave the last two games with a shoulder injury. State has to keep Stevens on the field today because an SEC Saturday is usually not a place a true freshman back-up quarterback finds a lot of success.
WHAT TO WATCH
When MSU has the ball
The Bulldogs have been balanced on offense, rushing for 224 yards and adding 187.7 yards through the air. However, the success of the offense is dependent upon the health of Stevens’ right shoulder.
Kentucky’s defense ranks 12th in the conference, allowing 390.3 yards per game and even teams like Toledo and Eastern Michigan have found ways to score touchdowns. However, the Wildcats have held opponents to 24 points or less in 15 of their last 17 games.
When Kentucky has the ball
Troy transfer Sawyer Smith will be making his second-straight start at quarterback after the Wildcats lost Terry Wilson for the season. Lynn Bowden Jr. and Ahmad Wagner are both weapons at wide receiver – especially the 6-foot-5, 237-pound Wagner in the red zone.
The Bulldogs defense has generated just four sacks in three games but has created 10 takeaways as a team. State has had to play without starting linebacker Willie Gay Jr. (three games), defensive tackle Lee Autry (two games) and cornerback Cameron Dantzler (one game) due to suspensions and injury.
Kentucky Offensive Line
vs. MSU Defensive Line
The Wildcats had their way at the line of scrimmage last year, opening up holes for Benny Snell Jr. and the UK backs to chew up 229 yards and four touchdown on the ground. This year’s offensive line is large, averaging 6-foot-5 and 317 pounds per man across the front.
Mississippi State’s defensive line has only had one sack all season and have been forced to start redshirt freshmen Fabien Lovett and Jaden Crumedy inside at the two tackle positions.