This week’s game: No. 20 MSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at Kentucky (1-4, 0-2), Saturday, 11:21 a.m., SEC Network (Dave Neal play-by-play, Andre Ware analyst, Cara Capuano sideline)
Welcome back to another game week. Much better than that boring off week, right? I know Tim Brewster is excited. I’ve already got the coverage started over on the site, so check out my story from today’s Journal.
Later today, I’ll have updates from Dan Mullen‘s 1 p.m. press conference. Now for a look at this week’s opponent.
• Last meeting: MSU, 28-16 (Oct. 29, 2011, in Lexington)
• Series: Kentucky leads, 21-18.
• Kentucky on the Web: ukathletics.com
• Kentucky coach: Joker Phillips (12-18, third year)
• Three Kentucky players to watch: WR La’Rod King, LB Miles Simpson, LB Avery Williamson
• Premature Review: In my Premature Preview of Kentucky, I noted that Mullen is 4-1 on the road against SEC Eastern Division teams. Two of those wins have come against Kentucky, and the Bulldogs are visiting Lexington for the second consecutive season as a result of tweaks made to the SEC schedule.
This should be another East road win for Mullen, because Kentucky simply isn’t that good. But, it put up a fight against No. 6 South Carolina, leading 17-7 at halftime before eventually losing 38-17. The Wildcats had to use two quarterbacks, as starter Maxwell Smith went down early with an ankle injury. Freshman Jalen Whitlow entered and played admirably under the circumstances, completing 12 of 23 passes for 114 yards and two interceptions. The poor thing was sacked six times.
Kentucky’s good start was aided by two blocked punts, which isn’t going to happen every week. So who knows what to make of that first half, but Mullen obviously hopes it gets the attention of his players, who have had issues with being properly motivated the last couple of games.
UK’s struggles are accurately reflected on the stat sheet. Nationally, it doesn’t rank high in many categories. Kentucky is 88th in scoring defense (30.8 ppg), 95th in rushing defense (192.8 ypg), 97th in total offense (349.4 ypg), 102nd in scoring offense (21.8 ppg), 103rd in rushing offense (119.6 ypg), 107th in pass efficiency (112.84 rating) … well, you get the picture.
So yeah, the Bulldogs should improve to 5-0. I imagine Vegas will agree, but I can’t find a line on the game yet.