The 0-2 Kentucky Wildcats will look to put their overtime loss to Ole Miss behind them on Saturday as they face a Mississippi State team that is also reeling as they come off a bad loss at home to Arkansas. Here are the three keys to a Kentucky victory:
By Steve Wright
Stop the passing attack
It looked in their first game this season like the Bulldogs would be unstoppable under Mike Leach in the SEC. They went for 623 yards through the air against LSU – remember this is a very down LSU to start the season – before that hype died a little as Mississippi State lost to Arkansas. The main difference between the two games was that QB KJ Costello wasn’t able to break long passes downfield. That – plus three turnovers – was the secret to the Razorbacks’ success and Kentucky needs to duplicate it here but getting around the ball and causing disruption to the passing attack.
Run the ball. Again.
It is pretty depressing to run the ball for over 400 yards and score six touchdowns on the ground while still coming away with a defeat. There were big runs all over the place as the Wildcats ground the Rebels run defense into the ground, but it wasn’t enough as the pass defense was torn apart on the back end. Kentucky’s way to win this is by controlling clock and grinding it out with the run. It’s something the team can do, the defense just has to be better as a compliment to the guys pounding the rock.
Win the turnover battle
This is a Kentucky team that is lower on confidence that most others in the league. The loss to Auburn was frustrating, but the one to Ole Miss was just flat out disappointing. There will be turnovers thrown by Costello here. The Bulldogs’ offense almost demands that the QB throws into traffic too many times and the Wildcats defensive backs need to step up and make plays after allowing seven touchdowns in two games so far this year. The Wildcats offense is built to not turn the ball over, so a turnover column win of +2 or so will be enough to win this game.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT (7:30 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.