Well, Mississippi State is number one and the Kentucky game is the SEC Game of the Week on CBS, just like we all thought it would be before the season started. Right, guys? .... Guys?
Okay, so the circumstances for this game are a LITTLE different than most years. And while the match up with UK may have meant a good deal more if they hadn't gotten shellacked by LSU on Saturday, it's still a huge game and can't be overlooked. Kentucky has played some quality games, especially when they've played at home and MSU won't have an easy out in Lexington.
Kentucky leads the all time series 21-20 but they haven't beaten the Bulldogs since 2008. MSU's biggest win against UK came in 1994 when they won 47-7 and they are currently in the midst of their longest winning streak ever against the Cats, at 5 straight. This is also Mississippi State's permanent annual cross-division rival, because no body else wanted to take them, I assume.
Schedule to Date:
vs. UT Martin W 59-14
vs. Ohio W 20-3
at Florida L 36-30
vs. Vanderbilt W 17-7
vs. South Carolina W 45-38
vs. ULM W 48-14
at LSU L 41-3
Kentucky seemed really impressive until we found out that Florida is a burning dumpster fire of awful, South Carolina isn't much better than Florida, and a team that MSU beat like a drum drilled UK by 38. With that said, Kentucky is WAY better than they were last year. Let's take a look at the stats.
Rushing yards per game
Rushing yards per carry
Passing yards per game
3rd Down Conversion Percentage
Total yards per game
It initially looks like MSU has a much better offense than Kentucky. It looks like that because it's true. MSU's offense is better than Kentucky's in basically every way. Especially at quarterback. Dak Prescott has accounted for 2,054 yards of offense and 22 touchdowns and has a total QBR of 165.6 while Kentucky's Patrick Towles has accounted for 1,815 yards of offense and 14 touchdowns and has a QBR of 134.1. This comparison may be a little unfair because Dak Prescott is the Heisman favorite and Patrick Towles is in his first year starting for the Wildcats but Kentucky is a young, rising program and MSU is a veteran program packed with lots of talented, experienced players. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Sacks on the season
Interceptions on the season
Defensively, MSU and Kentucky look a bit more even. Kentucky has been giving up 172.86 yards on the ground but only 181.3 yards through the air. Thankfully MSU has been as good running the ball as they have been passing. MSU is still giving up an average of 308 yards through the air but Kentucky hasn't been great passing so far this season. And as we all know, MSU's rushing defense has been stout, giving up 120.5 yards per game, but two of State's last three opponents are a couple of the best rushing offenses in America. Kentucky runs a pretty even mix of passing and rushing plays but they're not particularly efficient at either.
All in all, this is a favorable match up for State. I think at the end of the day, the Dawgs will just be too much for Kentucky.
State just can't get caught looking past the Cats. It could be easy for MSU to already be looking forward and thinking about Arkansas after the way the Wildcats looked against LSU. But I highly doubt that will happen. There's too much on the line right now for MSU and they simply can't afford to look past any team. Every opponent has to be respected from here on out and I think Dan Mullen and his staff and more importantly, this team, realize that. If MSU comes fully prepared for this game, as I assume they will, the Dawgs have a more talented, more experienced, more complete team and should walk away with a sizable win.