Time: 7 p.m. ET/6 p.m. CT
Commentators: Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman
Watch Online: WatchESPN
Could this be the biggest game for Mark Stoops in his time at Kentucky? The win over the Florida Gators massive and was a great achievement for the Kentucky Wildcats program. Would a win this weekend vault them toward the top three of the SEC East?
The #14 Mississippi St. Bulldogs visit Kroger Field on Saturday with their dynamic rushing attack. Both teams have a solid win, with Kentucky of course winning at UF and Mississippi State beating up Kansas State in Manhattan.
State is going to beat you with the run. Led by their quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and sophomore running back Kylin Hill, the Bulldog rushing attack is ranked 5th in the country. Kentucky’s run defense hasn’t been tested like it will be on Saturday, as they have been okay so far, giving up about 122 yards per game.
If Kentucky can force Fitzgerald to throw, they can have some success. Kentucky only has five sacks on the season and two interceptions but no one will confuse him for Tom Brady when he throws it. He is completing only 52 percent of his passes this season and it will be imperative for Kentucky to keep him in the pocket and not let him get outside and run.
Josh Allen will lead that brigade, as he already has two sacks on the year. Kentucky’s defense must be prepared for this test, and new Mississippi State coach Joe Moorehead is an excellent offensive mind and will have a gameplan ready.
The Kentucky defense needs to have a good game because of how good their counterparts are. The Bulldogs rank 8th so far this year in total defense and 13th in run defense. Kentucky, like Mississippi State, has a running-oriented attack. Benny Snell is a monster and is off to a great start this season, with 378 yards on 62 carries and is averaging 6 yards per attempt.
They have a dual-threat QB of their own in Terry Wilson has taken 32 rushes for 237 yards. When they throw the ball, Wilson is completing 69 percent of passes, but has thrown three interceptions. Mississippi State has a dynamic front seven with 10 sacks already and Montez Sweat has three. Jeffery Simmons has five TFL. Kentucky’s offensive line however has been rock solid, as they have only given up one sack all season. Kentucky dominated the line of scrimmage against Florida and will need to match that effort against a better team and defense in Mississippi State.
This a cross-divisional rivalry game and their is some bad blood going into the game. Benny Snell mentioned that he “can run on any team” and talked about how he doesn’t fear any opposing defense. Bulldog running back Kylin Hill, after Snell’s comment, tweeted out 41 crying emojis. Later in the week, Kentucky offensive linemen Drake Jackson was asked about Hill, and he replied “Does he play for Mississippi State?” Hill on Twitter tweeted out a flame emoji.
Kroger Field will be fired up as will both teams for this night game and it should be a good one between two teams trying to take that next step for their program.