By Logan Lowery
STARKVILLE – Mississippi State enters the second half of the season with a 3-3 overall record.
The remaining six regular season games for the Bulldogs will all be against Southeastern Conference opponents. MSU kicks off the back half of the ledger tonight at 6:30 p.m. hosting Kentucky on ESPN.
Both teams are coming off a bye over the weekend and are in search of its first SEC victory.
The Bulldogs have played Kentucky every year since 1990 and are 14-9 over that span including four straight victories under Dan Mullen.
State claimed a 27-14 victory last year in Lexington with Tyler Russell throwing for 269 yards and two touchdowns, Chad Bumphis hauling in nine catches for 104 yards and a score and LaDarius Perkins rushing for 110 yards and a touchdown.
However, first year Kentucky coach Mark Stoops presents a new challenge for State.
“They are a very different team than they have been in the past,” Mullen said. “I see them playing some really good defense at times. They’ve got some guys on the inside of their defense that have been there for a long time. They’ve played very hard at times but have given up some big plays but it’s a new staff and a new system and it’s just something to get adjusted to.”
The Wildcats are 1-5 on the year and 0-3 in conference play with their lone 41-7 win coming Sept. 7 over Miami of Ohio. Since then, Kentucky has dropped four straight to ranked opponents – Louisville, Florida, South Carolina and Alabama.
Kentucky has struggled with scoring this season, averaging 20.3 points, but the Wildcats have been limited to just seven points in three of its games.
Mississippi State is churning out 457.5 yards per game and scoring 30.5 points per contest. The Bulldogs have been balanced with 243.2 yards passing and 214.3 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown for 890 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions while also rushing for 457 yards and eight more scores. Prescott has eclipsed the 100-yard plateau in three games this year.
The bye week “was a good chance to go back, evaluate and fix the things I haven’t been good at,” Prescott said. “I’ve stayed calm throughout the games and kept my composure but there’s a lot of things I can do better.”
Russell has completed 70.7-percent of his throws on the year and hit on 19 of 25 passing in the two games since returning from a concussion.
Kentucky was limited to just 228 yards against the Bulldogs a year ago and surrendered four sacks.