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Five Questions: Mississippi State vs. Kentucky

Here's a look at Mississippi State vs. Kentucky with our friends at A Sea of Blue.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Mississippi State and Kentucky have played 42 times, and their record stands as 21-21.  With such a history, it would be easy to think fans of both teams know everything about the other, but that may not be the case give the recent historic success of Mississippi State and Kentucky's rebound this season.

Jason Marcum from A Sea of Blue caught up with us to share some thoughts on the Wildcats:

1. How has Patrick Towles improved this season? Who are the other offensive playmakers around him the MSU fans should be aware of?

Patrick Towles is having an up-and-down season that's, one one hand, keeping UK from reaching its true potential, and on the other hand, he's saved the Cats at several points this year.

He's completing just 61% of his passes and has just eight TD passes vs seven interceptions while also taking 19 sacks in just six games. His offensive line hasn't been great at times, but he's also holding the ball too long and taking some bad sacks.

Still, Towles is the leader of this offense, and UK will only go as far as he can take them.

As far as other playmakers, Boom Williams continues to show why he's one of the best running backs in the SEC. He's rushed for 456 yards and three scores on just 63 carries (7.2 ypc) and can bust off a big run at any moment.

At receiver, Garrett Johnson and Dorian Baker are your typical big, physical and fast SEC receivers. They've combined to catch 58 passes for 780 yards and four scores. They can win deep or across the middle while breaking tackles in the process.

Jeff Badet is a quicker receiver who does most of his damage down the field. He's good for about one deep bomb per game and has catches of 27, 36, 37, 43, and 45 yards this year, all of those coming in five different games.

Tight end C.J. Conrad is an emerging threat across the middle. He's a big, physical blocker who often gets kept in for pass protection, but has great hands and can do some damage in the middle of the field.

2. How do Kentucky fans feel about their season so far? After all the wildcats are only 8 points from coming into this game undefeated.

This is actually one of the best points the program has been at recently in terms of fan support. They're keeping hope this program is moving int he right direction, but it's faded a bit after losing to an Auburn team UK absolutely should have beaten. It doesn't help they're facing a Mississippi State team few expect them to beat.

At the very least, UK needs to have a good showing against MSU and keep the game within striking distance throughout to keep the fanbase engaged like they've been thus far this season. It was at this point last year when they started getting blown out by teams like LSU, Georgia and Tennessee, teams who were kind of like MSU this year in that they were good, but not someone they should be losing by 3+ touchdowns to.

3. How big of a win would this be for Mark Stoops at Kentucky?

It would be 'the' signature win, no question. This is a MSU team that could easily be in the top 25, and anytime you beat a top-25 caliber SEC team on the road is big.

Heck, I compare where UK is at coming into this game to where MSU was at in 2007: A program on the rise that needed a signature win, and they got it against a top-25 UK team before going on to finish 8-5. You may have had a few bad years after that, but it was still big for the program and helped show good times were on the horizon once you got the right coach in place in Dan Mullen

The result, at least in terms of this season, would likely be the same if UK won this game. They'd easily get to six wins and may even reach eight or nine wins. There's no question this would be the kind of win that elevates a program like UK and helps set them up for better days ahead.

4. Kentucky has only allowed thirty points twice this season. Who and what has contributed to that success?

Mark Stoops. His biggest mistake as a head coach, in my opinion, wasn't being more hands on with the defense his fist two seasons. He let his coordinators and assistants do a lot of the work while trying to manage the whole team. He's taken a different approach this year in that he's now coaching the defensive backs, which was easily UK's biggest weakness last year.

They've improved dramatically this season and are giving up far less big plays through the air than they were his first two years in Lexington. They currently ranked 31st in 10+ yard passing plays allowed, 41st in opponent passer rating, and are tied for the sixth-fewest passing TDs allowed (6).

In 2014, UK finished 51st, 59th and 85th in those categories respectively. This secondary still can struggle at times, but are far more consistent than they've ever been under Stoops.

That said, they'll face their biggest test this week against Dak Prescott, who is quietly playing like one of the four or five best quarterbacks in college football.

5. How do you see this one playing out on Saturday?

This is a game UK badly needs while MSU sort of needs. The Bulldogs are facing some long odds of winning the SEC West with LSU, Alabama and Ole Miss (for now anyways) ahead of them and the tigers holding a head-to-head win. The SEC East is far more up for grabs though with Florida having lost Will Grier and everyone else looking above average at best, and UK can ill-afford to lose this game if they want to remain in the running for it.

As far as this game goes, UK has the starting talent to go head-to-head with the Bulldogs, but they still aren't quite deep enough to win a four-quarter game against a team of this caliber.

The Cats put up a good fight, but come up just short as Missippi State escapes with a 27-20 win.