Kentucky sucks. That's about all you really need to know. But I'll elaborate a little. They are 1-4 this year with their only victory being over the Kent State team who ran the wrong way in Week 1. They've looked horrible in a loss to Louisville, been beaten at home by Western Kentucky, and blown away 38-0 in the Swamp. Their best game, or should I say half, was last week vs. South Carolina. That game was in Lexington and despite their 17-7 halftime lead they ended up losing 38-17.
The game plan in the second half for South Carolina was to run the ball and stop the run. Once they put their mind to it, it wasn't hard. Kentucky lost their signal caller, Max Smith, who was their biggest offensive threat and still stands as 5th in the SEC in passing yards per game (but really could be 1st if not for his injury very early vs. USC).
12th in the SEC in scoring and total offense.
The bad news for UK is Max Smith won't be able to play in this game, the good news is Morgan Newton won't start - he is an eye-bursting 90 of 195 for 871 yards in the last two years. The Wildcats will start freshman Jalen Whitlow who was 12 of 23 for 114 yards, 0 TD and 2 INT last week.
At running back, Raymond Sanders leads the way with 260 yards and averages 6.5 yards per carry.
Their best WR is La'Rod King who, like Chad Bumphis at MSU, has been at Kentucky forever. The senior already has 28 catches this year, but only 8.7 yards per, about half his average from last season.
Outside of Guard Larry Warford, Kentucky's O-line leaves a lot to be desired. MSU should definitely be able to get some pressure if Whitlow holds onto the ball.
13th in the SEC in scoring defense and 12th in total defense.
Losing Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy has left this group in a hole. They are basically terrible. They are 5th in the SEC in passing defense but that is only because you can run the ball at will on them so there is no need. LB Avery Williamson is 3rd in the SEC in tackles, but that happens when you're D is on the field all game long - Trevathan and Guy were 1, 2 in 2011.
UK has been giving up 22 first downs a game and allowing 3rd down conversions at a league-worst and horrific 53%.
Basically what I'm saying is - there is no reason why MSU shouldn't move the ball in this game.
Players to Watch
As I mentioned above, Senior WR La'Rod King. He has been a go to receiver for Kentucky quarterbacks in the early going and he's pretty good. Look for Whitlow to look for King early and often as MSU will most likely give him all the underneath routes he wants as Chris Wilson did last year with Max Smith who was 26 of 33 for just 174 yards. This probably won't be too bad of a strategy here as long as King and the other wideouts don't break a long run.
Sophomore LB Alvin Dupree has played very well so far this year. He has 41 tackles (6.5 for loss) and 3.5 sacks.
Outlook for the Game
From the 2nd quarter on I don't think Mississippi State will have any trouble running the ball, as long as they don't fool around and throw incompletions and 1st and 2nd down. When UK has the ball, I assume State will play more of the zone we've seen so much of with the occasional corner blitz for pressure, and I'd expect some more INTs with the young QB.
I'm a little shocked by the 10 point line. I know it starting at UK -14 but that was obviously a mistake. Last year, a mediocre 3-4 MSU team came into Lexington a 14 point favorite. Albeit the Cats had lost their 3 SEC games by an average of 39 points - this year they've just lost their first 2 SEC games by an average of 29.5. I'm going MSU 38, UK 13.