LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — The Southeastern Conference has not cleared teams for eight conference home games yet, so Mark Stoops will finally take his University of Kentucky squad away from Kroger Field Saturday.
The Wildcats are booked for a game in Starkville against a Mississippi State team that Kentucky defeated, 28-7 in Lexington last season.
The nuts and bolts about the game, which matches a pair of 2-1 teams:
1.Time: 4 p.m. (EDT), David-Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
2. Where to Watch: SEC Network: DirecTV 611; Spectrum 516; U-Verse 1607; Dish Network 408. (Taylor Zarzour; Matt Stinchcomb; Alyssa Lang).
3. The Line: Mississippi State -6; Over/Under 48 1/2.
4. Scouting Kentucky: The Wildcats lost the kind of game they won last season, coming from ahead in the fourth quarter to fall against Florida, 29-21, after Gators’ backup quarterback Kyle Trask threw a pair of touchdown passes. Sawyer Smith was solid in his first start at quarterback for UK, completing 23 of 35 for 267 yards and a pair of touchdowns. But Smith was hurt by three interceptions, although one was desperate heave on the game’s final play. Running the ball will be key. The Wildcats’ yards per carry average dropped from 4.51 against Toledo and 6.13 against Eastern Michigan to only 3.41 against Florida. Mississippi State has limited all three of its opponents to less than 4.3 yards per carry. All eyes will also be on UK linebacker Kash Daniel, after his involvement in a incident with Trask in a pile in the fourth quarter. Stoops said he talked to Daniel about the play and that the linebacker will dress and be on the field Saturday.
5. Scouting Mississippi State: Does Mississippi State have a winning quarterback? Tommy Stevens, a former Indiana High School 4-star recruit who initially orally committed to Kevin Wilson and Indiana, is the guy. Stevens later changed his mind and signed with Penn State, where he was mostly a reserve last season. Many expected Stevens to take over as the Nittany Lions QB in 2019 but he decided to transfer following spring practice and rejoin MSU coach Joe Moorhead, his offensive coordinator at Penn State. Stevens has been solid in the first three games, completing better than 65 percent of his throws for 441 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions. He left the game against Kansas State last Saturday with a sore throwing shoulder, but Stevens reported that his shoulder felt better this week. He should play against UK.
6. Spotlight Player: Mississippi State running back Kylin Hill ranks third in the nation and first in the Southeastern Conference with 431 yards on 65 carries. Hill has rushed for 100 yards or more in all three games, although he failed to score a touchdown against Kansas State. Hill was limited to 14 yards on four carries against Kentucky in Lexington last season. A junior, Hill is listed at 5 feet 11 and 215 pounds.
7. Sideline storyline: This will be Kentucky’s first road game after opening with three games at Kroger Field. The Wildcats play only four road games this season. They’re booked for a trip to South Carolina Sept. 28, a visit to Georgia Oct. 19 and finally a game at Vanderbilt Nov. 16. State is playing its third consecutive home game, with the Bulldogs booked for a trip to Auburn next week. State defensive backs coach Terrell Buckley is a former University of Louisville assistant coach.
8. Fan tip: A heat advisory is forecast for Starkville Saturday and fans will be permitted to bring one, clear, colorless bottle into the stadium, where water refill stations will operate in multiple locations. Mississippi State has advised visiting fans to enter Davis-Wade Stadium at least 45 minutes before kickoff to ensure clearance through increased security. The stadium seats 55,082. According to a seating chart of the HailState.com website, the game is not sold out.
10. The Picks: Rick Bozich, Mississippi 27, Kentucky 24; Eric Crawford: Kentucky 35, Mississippi State 28.
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