Looking To Get Back On Track
The Kentucky football team got off to a fast start in 2022 starting 4-0. However, they dropped their last two in a painful fashion. Mark Stoops’ club looks to pick up the pieces and get back on track under the lights at Kroger Field. They’ll face a very tough Mississippi State squad led by a potential Heisman candidate. Kentucky needs a victory. Can they get it? Let’s preview both teams and find out.
Waiting On Will
Ever since he missed the loss to South Carolina the Big Blue Nation’s been checking every video on Twitter and other places for updates on Will Levis. According to offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello, the UK signal-caller is trending the right way to play on Saturday. If he can’t go then Kaiya Sheron gets the nod again.
In all honesty, the freshman played pretty well throwing for 178 yards and two touchdowns. After the game, Stoops said they didn’t do a very good job of giving Sheron a chance to succeed. Even more curious was the lack of touches by Chris Rodriguez in the second half. After rushing for nearly 100 in the first stanza he barely touched the ball in the second.
The Wildcats continue to struggle to run the ball in 2022. Currently, they rank 123 out of 131 teams in college football averaging 93 yards a game. In addition, UK ranks 129th in the nation in sacks allowed with 25. Only Colorado State and Akron have given up more. We’ve seemingly talked about it every week but it’s something that must be fixed.
We’ve looked at Kentucky’s offensive issues but now let’s turn the page to the visitors on Saturday night.
Scouting The Bulldogs
Mike Leach’s squad heads to Lexington sporting a 5-1 record and a three-game winning streak. Their lone loss came at LSU back on September 17th 31-16. The Bulldogs are led by dark horse Heisman candidate Will Rogers. So far in 2022, the junior has completed a remarkable 72 percent of his passes. In addition, he’s thrown for 2,110 yards and 22 touchdowns against only three interceptions.
Of course, any Leach club won’t be known for their running game but when they do MSU has two quality backs. Dillon Johnson leads the squad with 402 yards and three touchdowns. Furthermore, he’s second on the team in receptions with 27. Jo’quavious Marks is right behind with 245 yards and five scores. He also has 23 receptions.
Rogers has a wealth of receivers at his disposal as the Bulldogs have six players with 20 or more receptions. Caleb Ducking leads the way with 28 receptions for 322 yards and seven touchdowns. He ranks second in touchdowns and fourth in receptions in the SEC.
On the other side of the ball linebacker, Jett Johnson leads the team with 57 tackles. That puts him fourth in the SEC.
Now that we’ve looked at both teams as we do every week let’s look at the series’ history.
Series History And Last Time They Met
As each squad’s permanent SEC opponent the schools have played every year since 1990. Currently, Mississippi State leads the all-time series 25-24. Kentucky dominated the early games in the series although the Bulldogs ran off seven straight from 2009-2015. Since then the schools have alternated wins with each team winning on their home turf.
Last season down in Starkville Rogers set an all-time SEC completion percentage record hitting 36 of 39 passes for 344 yards and a touchdown. As a result, MSU rolled to an easy 31-17 victory. The last time they played in Lexington UK held a Leach coached team without an offensive point for the only time in history. The result was a 24-2 victory.
Does Kentucky need a victory on Saturday? Will they get it? We’ve kept you in suspense long enough.
Who Wins On Saturday?
Rogers will no doubt test the Kentucky defense. Ultimately, they should have Jacquez Jones back and the secondary has done pretty well. On the other side of the ball, the Wildcat offense has had recent trouble against the Bulldog defense. If they have a weakness it’s stopping the run. A week ago they gave up 241 yards to a KJ Jefferson-less Arkansas. In the loss to LSU, the Tigers ran for 207 yards and three scores.
In order to win Rodriguez has to have a big game and they must control the ball. With Tennessee and Georgia still looming UK needs this one to have any shot at a good bowl game. At the end of the evening, the Wildcats find a way to win and head into their bye week victorious.
Kentucky 27- Mississippi State 24
Kentucky needs a victory; come back after the ball to find out if they got it.