Teams: Kentucky Wildcats (5-1, 2-1) vs. Mississippi St. Bulldogs (4-2, 1-2)
Rankings: Kentucky (S&P+: 77) | Mississippi State (S&P+: 21)
TV: SEC Network
Time: 3 p.m. CT/4 p.m. ET
Watch Online: WatchESPN
Series History: Mississippi State leads the all-time series against Kentucky 23-20-0.
Last Time We Met...: Kentucky won 40-38, snapping a seven-game losing streak.
Spread: Mississippi State opened as 10-point faves. The line bumped up between 11 and 12.
O/U: The total opened at 53.5. It’s now between 54 and 54.5.
Records ATS: Kentucky (2-4) | Mississippi State (4-2)
Players to Watch
Garrett Johnson: Kentucky’s leading receiver has been terrific this season. He leads the team in catch rate with a mark of 73 percent, and is amassing 12.3 yards per catch and 9.0 yards per target. His TD numbers are slim, having just grabbed two this season, but Johnson still leads the team in receptions and receiving yards. State doesn’t have a great pass defense, but one that’s proven to be decent enough at times. They will have to control Garrett Johnson if they want to walk away with a win.
Josh Allen: Kentucky’s junior linebacker has been an absolute terror this season. Allen has 8.5 TFL and 6.5 sacks, both team highs by a pretty significant margin. Allen has also forced two fumbles and come away with 29 total tackles and three run stuffs. To put it simply: He’s been Kentucky’s master disruptor this season, and someone that State will have to account for. Nick Fitzgerald is fleet-footed, to be sure. But he’ll likely have to keep his head on a swivel for Allen on Saturday afternoon.
Nick Fitzgerald: This seems like the obvious choice, but it’s true that State’s offense is in need of a jolt again. They won big over BYU last week, but the Cougars are one of the worst teams in FBS. Kentucky has been solid enough where the Bulldogs will need a significant effort to get it done. That starts with Fitzgerald, who looked phenomenal in the first few weeks. His play has tapered off a bit since the destruction of LSU, so he’ll need to get back in the mix in Starkville on Saturday.
J.T. Gray: It’s probably likely that Gray will have duties to cover Garrett Johnson. The 6-foot, 202-pound DB has been one of the better players in State’s secondary. To this point, he’s racked up 23.5 tackles, 1.5 TFL, four run stuffs and three pass breakups with a forced fumble to boot. So Gray should be accounted for in coverage and in helping to stop Benny Snell, Sihiem King and the Wildcat rushing attack.
Prediction: Kentucky 24, Mississippi State 20