Cats Look To Keep Hot Streak Going
It was a history-making weekend for the Kentucky football team down in “The Swamp.” Not only did Mark Stoops become the school’s all-time wins leader but they knocked off Florida in consecutive years for the first time since the 1970s. As a result, the Wildcats are ranked ninth in the current AP poll. It’s their highest ranking since they were eighth during the 2007 season. The trick now is to keep the momentum going as they step out of conference on Saturday for a Noon game on the SEC Network. Let’s preview both teams and give you a prediction as Kentucky hosts Youngstown State.
A Special Match Up
When the Cats and Penguins hit the field there’s a connection with the Kentucky headman. Stoops, along with associate head coach Vince Marrow, is from Youngstown, Ohio. They played football together at Cardinal Mooney High School. During his weekly press conference, Stoops said he “was really proud they’re coming in, I’m looking forward to it.” He went on to say growing up in the area molded him into the person he is today. However, at the end of the day, it’s all about getting the win.
As mentioned earlier Kentucky’s coming off their third win against Florida in the last five years. After another slow start, the Cats totally dominated the second half holding the Gators to 91 yards and no points. They did a great job containing Anthony Richardson, a player some in the media were comparing to Cam Newton and Vince Young. The Florida signal caller only had four yards rushing and was picked off twice. The big win boosted the Cats to a New Year’s Bowl in our latest bowl projections.
On Saturday look for exactly what you would expect from Kentucky, a steady dose of the running game leading to options for quarterback Will Levis. With Chris Rodriguez out for two more games, Kavosiey Smoke stepped up big last week gaining 80 yards on 14 carries. Many of those came late in the contest when Kentucky was running out the clock. Freshman Dane Key had a second straight huge game with three catches for 83 yards and a spectacular 55-yard touchdown.
After missing the first game linebacker Jordan Wright returned and made an instant impact with an interception leading to a Wildcat score. In addition Keidron Smith had a 65-yard pick six giving the Cats the lead. They should get plenty of opportunities to pad the stats this weekend.
Now that we’ve talked about the Wildcats let’s turn our attention to the visitors as Kentucky hosts Youngstown State.
Scouting The Penguins
Youngstown State comes into Saturday’s match-up sporting a 2-0 record. The FCS squad from the Missouri Valley Conference beat Dayton last week 49-16. In their opener, they knocked off Duquense 31-14. A year ago Doug Phillips’ team finished 3-7 and tied for last in the MVC. Although, so far 2022 looks like a different story.
The Penguins are led by quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw, who’s coming off a five-touchdown performance in the win over Dayton. In addition, running back Jaleel McLaughlin has run for 338 yards and four touchdowns in two games. He’s also a threat as a pass catcher hauling in three for 61 yards and a score.
A name very familiar to the Big Blue Nation is the top wide receiver. Bryce Oliver, who caught eight passes for 125 yards and a score in his time at Kentucky, is Crenshaw’s main target. So far in 2022 Oliver has 10 receptions for 121 yards and two scores. Last year he hauled in 24 passes for 266 yards and eight scores. That’s the most by a Youngstown State player since 2011.
This is the first-ever meeting between Kentucky and Youngstown State. Since Stoops took over in Lexington he’s 8-0 against FCS competition. Nevertheless, it hasn’t always been easy. Going back to 2015 UK had to rally to beat Eastern Kentucky 34-27 in overtime. Let’s also not forget how Chattanooga nearly knocked off the Cats last year before the Wildcats escaped 28-23.
On the other side of the ball, the Penguins have lost seven straight to Power Five teams. The last win came against Pittsburgh in 2012. While they’ve been unsuccessful a few of the games have been fairly close. In fact, three of the losses came by 11 points or less.
We’ve previewed both teams and that means only one thing. It’s prediction time as Kentucky hosts Youngstown State.
Who Wins On Saturday?
Despite the homecoming of sorts this weekend it’s all about winning. This is one of those games where you want that huge early advantage and get your reserves some playing time. Most importantly you want to escape injury free. Look for Kentucky to jump out to an early lead and the Big Blue Nation gets an extended look at Deuce Hogan and Kaiya Sheron under center.
Thanks for checking out our preview as Kentucky hosts Youngstown State on Saturday. Don’t forget to check out all the great content here at Last Word On College Football while you’re here.