• The matchup: No. 20 MSU (4-0, 1-0 SEC) at Kentucky (1-4, 0-2)
• The kickoff: 11:21 a.m., SEC Network
• The weather: Quite nippy with a 50 percent chance of rain, which means UK fans might turn out in even smaller numbers than normal.
• The line: MSU –10
The Bulldogs are back after a week off, refreshed and allegedly rejuvenated. It’s been a great start, although there were issues aplenty to iron out during the down time.
How well have those issues been addressed? Will the offense find more consistency? Will QB Tyler Russell make better reads and better throws this weekend? Will the defense be in more of an attack mode?
All of those are keys to MSU winning Saturday. That last one – attacking – is especially important given Kentucky’s quarterback situation. That’s been pretty much the only topic discussed and written about this week regarding the Wildcats, who are without injured starter Maxwell Smith. We don’t know much about freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles, except that the latter was an exceptionally good high school player who is the grandson of baseball Hall-of-Famer Jim Bunning. Good genes, if nothing else.
UK put up a strong fight in the first half against No. 6 South Carolina last week, taking a 17-7 lead into haftime. Then the Gamecocks, being a very talented and experienced group, reeled off 31 unanswered points and cruised to victory. If Kentucky can capture that early momentum again this week, will MSU respond in similar fashion?
I’m not convinced Kentucky can start that way, but you never know. While those QBs are inexperienced, there’s something to be said for forcing a defense to face the unknown. But I believe the Bulldogs will adjust and respond to any challenges thrown their way, and I believe they will leave Commonwealth Stadium with a convincing win.
• The prediction: MSU 33, Kentucky 13.