LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- One of the great unanswered questions about Southeastern Conference expansion with Texas and Oklahoma remains this: How will the league align its 16 members?

Will Kentucky be grouped with a different collection teams? And, in a question fitting for this Saturday, will Mississippi State remain a team the Wildcats play every season?

There are more difficult teams from the SEC West Division to play every season (you know their names) and maybe you believe Ole Miss or Arkansas would be an easier path for the Wildcats.

But MSU has been UK’s annual West Division partner for years, and this is the weekend the Wildcats must travel to Mississippi to play coach Mike Leach’s second Bulldogs’ team.

TIME: 7 p.m. Saturday; Davis Wade Stadium; Starkville, Mississippi.

WHERE TO WATCH/LISTEN: TV — SEC Network (Tom Hart, play by play; Jordan Rodgers, analyst; Cole Cubelic, sidelines); RADIO — UK Radio Network, 840 AM, WHAS (Tom Leach, play by play; Jeff Piecoro, analyst; Dick Gabriel, sidelines).

THE LINE: Point spread — Pick ‘em; Over/Under (total points) — 47.

THE LAST TIME: Kentucky beat MSU, 24-2, last season in Lexington. The home team has won the last six games in this series.

THE RECORDS: Kentucky is 6-1 overall and 4-1 in the Southeastern Conference. The Wildcats are ranked No. 12 in the AP poll; MSU is 4-3, 2-2. The Bulldogs’ best win was 26-22 at Texas A&M. They also have a home win over North Carolina State.


PLAYER TO WATCH KENTUCKY: Chris Rodriguez, halfback. MSU has allowed only four rushing touchdowns all season. The Bulldogs have also limited four of their last six opponents to less than 100 yards rushing. MSU has allowed only 3.39 yards per carry, fourth-best in the SEC. Rodriguez leads the SEC in rushing yards with 775, averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

PLAYER TO WATCH MISSISSIPPI STATE: Quarterback Will Rogers has thrown 397 passes, which is 123 more than any other SEC quarterback. Leach loves short passes so Rogers has averaged only 6.4 yards per attempt. Rogers has thrown seven interceptions, five in the last two games. Kentucky had six interceptions against MSU last season, two thrown by Rogers.

SIDELINE STORYLINES: Kentucky has lost five straight games in Starkville. The Wildcats’ last win there was 14-13 on Nov. 1, 2008. Leach was the offensive coordinator during the first two seasons of Hal Mumme’s reign at Kentucky in 1997 and 1998 when the Wildcats set 41 SEC records and 116 UK records with their Air Raid passing attack. Leach has remained a fan of the area, often returning to attend the Kentucky Derby. Rogers is the only SEC quarterback who has thrown for more than 400 yards with multiple touchdowns in a game. With 22 career touchdowns, Rodriguez needs three more to tie Mark Higgs, George Adams and Derrick Ramsey for fourth place in UK history. Kentucky ranks 23rd nationally in scoring and total defense. The Wildcats are also third in the SEC in those two categories.

THE QUOTE: Mike Leach, when he was asked what he would give media members if they visited his house on Halloween:

“The good ones you certainly would give something better than an apple. We used to have a dentist growing up that would give everyone a toothbrush and his card on it. Definitely something big. A big candy bar. You can’t be reckless and hold the bowl out. You’d grab handfuls as fast as you can until they shoo you off the porch. Then, the ones I like less, you’d borrow the neighbor’s dog and try to make sure he’s out patrolling the yard.”   

THE PICK: Kentucky 27, Mississippi State 24.

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