Stoops Looks To Make History
When Kentucky and Miami (Ohio) kick off under the lights on Saturday night it will be a special night for Mark Stoops. He’ll start his 10th year in Lexington making him the longest-tenured coach in school history. In addition, a win ties him with a coaching legend. Let’s get you ready for the season opener with our Miami (Ohio) Versus Kentucky Preview.
Scouting The Cats
Will Levis is back for another year under center for the Cats. He thought about entering the NFL Draft but came back to enhance his stock for 2023. A season ago the former Penn State transfer had more than 3,000 yards of total offense while producing 33 touchdowns through the air and ground. However, his 14 interceptions led the SEC. To that end, he attended the Manning Passing Academy this summer working on his mechanics. He’s turned heads everywhere he’s been and is a consensus first-round pick in next year’s draft.
He’ll have to find a new favorite target as Wan’Dale Robinson is now playing for the New York Giants. The former Nebraska transfer had the best season for a receiver in school history with 104 receptions. Stoops and new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello looked to the transfer portal for help. They believe they found it in Tayvion Robinson, formerly of Virginia Tech. During his three years in Blacksburg Robinson hauled in 113 receptions and nine touchdowns.
Behind Robinson, UK has a very talented but inexperienced group. Two freshmen Barion Brown and Dane Key are listed as starters on the Week 1 depth chart. In addition, UK has a strong group of tight ends, which given Scangarello’s history with that position has the Big Blue Nation who have been waiting for more tight end production happy.
Bringing The Smoke
As you are probably well aware Kentucky’s All-SEC running back Chris Rodriguez won’t play on Saturday. Stoops wouldn’t call it a “suspension” only saying he wouldn’t be available. Good thing the Cats have one of the strongest running back groups in the league. Senior Kavosiey Smoke gets the start against Miami. He’s run for 1,306 yards and 12 touchdowns in his time at Kentucky. Behind him is Sam Houston State transfer Ramon Jefferson, who’s been turning heads ever since he came to Lexington during the summer. The former FCS All-American ran for 1,907 yards during his time with the Bearkats.
Now that we’ve told you what to look for with the Cats as we continue our Miami (Ohio) versus Kentucky preview let’s look at the RedHawks.
Getting To Know Miami
Chuck Martin’s club is coming off a 7-6 season and a win over North Texas in the Frisco Football Classic. They are led by quarterback Brett Gabbert who threw for 2,648 yards and 26 touchdowns in 2021. In addition, he was only picked off six times. Star receiver Jack Sorenson graduated but Mac Hippenhammer returns and is his favorite target. Last year he hauled in 48 catches for 768 yards and five touchdowns. They also added Indiana transfer Miles Marshall. During his time in Bloomington, he had 57 receptions for 797 yards and two touchdowns. Another player to watch is the tight end, Jack Coldiron. They’ll test a Kentucky secondary with several new faces from last year.
The RedHawks had a running back by the committee last season gaining 1,400 yards combined with 12 touchdowns. Keyon Mozee led the way with 557 yards and four touchdowns. Kevin Davis is a threat as a receiver out of the backfield with 23 catches for 208 yards.
Over on the defensive side of the ball, Miami was hit hard by the transfer portal but the linebackers are solid. Matthew Salopek returns after recording 112 tackles in 2021 including 69 solos. That ranked him second in the MAC last season. Ryan McWood returns after missing last year due to an injury.
How To Watch And Game History
Saturday’s game is only available online through SEC Network +. Every SEC team has one game that’s only available through streaming and this is Kentucky’s. This will be the 14th time in history the two schools have met. The Wildcats hold an 8-4 margin with the tie coming all the way back in 1917. UK’s won three in a row including a 41-13 win in the last meeting in 2013. The RedHawks last won in 1979.
Now that we’ve talked about both teams it’s prediction time as we finish our Miami (Ohio) versus Kentucky Preview
Who Wins On Saturday
As mentioned in the beginning a win ties Stoops with Bear Bryant for most wins in school history with 60. For all the grief athletic director Mitch Barnhart gets from Kentucky fans he deserves credit for sticking with Stoops. Remember two games into his fourth year Stoops was 12-26. Since then he’s gone 47-27 with two ten wins seasons and four straight bowl wins. Miami is 0-16 against Power Five schools since Martin took over in Oxford. After Saturday it will be 0-17. Kentucky starts the season ranked 20th in the AP Poll, the first time they’ve been ranked since 1978. Furthermore, they are ranked in both polls starting the year for the first time ever.
Look for Levis to have a big game along with Smoke, who’ll make the most of a starting role. The Cats opened as an 18-point favorite but that’s dropped to 16.5 as of this writing. At the end of the day, Kentucky’s simply the better team and they win on Saturday.
Thanks for Previewing Miami (Ohio) Versus Kentucky with us here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back after the game with a full recap and then look ahead to a trip to Florida next Saturday night.