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The Grueling Truth - Where Legends Speak / Kentucky and Mississippi State Preview

Kentucky and Mississippi State Preview

Can the Wildcast overcome?
Publish Date: 09/21/2018
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

Lexington:

The Wildcats and Bulldogs meet Saturday night in a massive cross-division rivalry game at Kroger Field. This game for Kentucky could go down as one of the biggest home games in recent program history.

Mississippi State will be taking a top 15 ranking into Lexington to face the Wildcats. The Bulldogs will look to start the season 4-0 for the first time since the historic 2014 season and only the third time since 1999.

Quick hitters:

The Bulldogs lead the all-time series record 23-22

Kickoff- 7p EST, ESPN2

Location- Kroger Field

Coach Stoops on the game with Mississippi State-

Again, as I said after the (Murray State) game, I thought it was a good sign for our football team. The maturity about us to go out there and prepare the right way last week and to go out and play a good football game.  We’re going to have to do the same thing this week. We are going to have to kick it up a notch. It is a big game against Mississippi State. We are excited and the guys are ready to get to work on that.”

Coach Stoops on Mississippi State physical nature-

“Again, as I said after the (Murray State) game, I thought it was a good sign for our football team. The maturity about us to go out there and prepare the right way last week and to go out and play a good football game.  We’re going to have to do the same thing this week. We are going to have to kick it up a notch. It is a big game against Mississippi State. We are excited and the guys are ready to get to work on that.”

Stoops on Nick Fitzgerald-

He has experience. He is physical. He makes plays when he has to. He is talented with his arm. As always, when you play a team like this, it is not only physical when they run the ball, but they have a physical quarterback and they use quarterback runs. That makes you play with numbers and then he is talented enough with the receiving corps and the tight ends are talented enough to hurt you throwing the ball. So, it puts a lot of pressure on you.”

Joe Moorehead on the matchup with Kentucky-

“Moving on to Kentucky, it’s going to be a huge challenge for us, obviously. Coach Mark Stoops, I have an unbelievable amount of respect for him, and I’ve gotten to know him from the SEC meetings. He’s another Midwest guy and a Youngstown native – Cardinal Mooney, a great high school there. Certainly, they are a huge challenge. They will be 3-0 and 1-0 with the win over Florida, so 1-0 in SEC play. You can see from their roster that they’ve recruited size, speed, length, and athleticism. Not just that part of the roster, but they’ve done an excellent job developing talent. Their mindset is toughness, physicality, aggressiveness, and explosiveness, and right now, they’re playing with a ton of confidence. Their offense is led by Eddie Gran, their coordinator. They’re a spread team, averaging 37 points a game with 470 yards. Their best players, we believe, are the quarterback Terry Wilson. He’s a transfer from Oregon and a junior college kid. He’s very dynamic, very athletic and can make plays by design or improvisation. He extends plays with his feet and does a great job there. He has really done a great job as a passer this year, so they’re doing an awesome job with him. Certainly, running back Benny Snell. His talent production kind of speaks for itself. He’s an All-SEC player, 5-11 and 225 pounds. In a lot of ways, he’s similar to some of our guys. He can run between the tackles. He can break it out in the open. He’s a good receiver out in the backfield. Wide receiver Lynn Bowden was All-Freshman SEC last year. He’s really kind of coming into his own. He’s a guy we recruited at Penn State. We think Lynn’s an excellent player and provides a great legitimate deep threat on the outside for them.

Defensively, Matt House is their defensive coordinator. They are a multiple 3-4 units. They have given up 15 points and 305 yards a game, so very stout in their first three performances. They are big, strong and physical up front. They have two great linebackers on the inside that can run and make plays. They do a great job avoiding blocks and have a lot of sizes, length, and athleticism on the back end. We think their best guys up front are Josh Allen, No. 41, who kind of plays an outside linebacker and defensive end position. A lot of people project him as a top-round NFL talent. Jordan Jones, the linebacker, No. 34, and Mike Edwards, No. 7, the defensive back.”

Now down to the matchup

On the offensive of the ball, both teams are led by two outstanding quarterbacks and two smash-mouth running backs.

First, let’s take a look at the visiting Bulldogs from Starkville.

Nick Fitzgerald is the star of the high power Bulldog offense. Fitzgerald broke his leg last season in the Egg Bowl with arch-rival Ole Miss. Nick has been on target his first three games this season going for several rushing and throwing touchdowns. Fitzgerald needs 196 rushing yards to break Tim Tebow’s SEC record for rushing yards for a QB. ( 2,947).

For the Kentucky Wildcats, Benny Snell, and Terry “Touchdown” Wilson have been the power behind the thoroughbred Kentucky offense so far this season. Benny Snell is averaging a crazy 125 yards per game which rank him within the top 10 in the country. Kentucky averages 283 rushing yards a game which puts the Wildcats at 12th in the nation and 3rd in the SEC.

On to the other side of the ball for both teams.

Kentucky has only given up 917 in total yards, the fewest in the first three games since 2010. ( 773)

Kentucky has yet to give up any points in the third quarter first time 1991 for the Wildcats.

Kash Daniels, Jordan Jones, Chris Westry, Mike Edwards, Josh Allen, and others are all names to watch for as the Wildcats defense take the field on Saturday night.

The Bulldogs defense is one of the biggest and nastiest in the SEC. With guys like Jeffery Simmons and Leo Lewis, the Wildcats could have trouble on Saturday night.

The game will come down to who punches first and who gives in first. Saturday night in Lexington, Ky will see an old-school SEC football game with a lot of smash mouth football being played at Kroger Field. This will be an all-out war Saturday night in Lexington.

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