Kentucky at Mississippi State
Time: 3 PM CST Saturday
Spread: MIS -7.5
Odds c/o 5dimes
Mississippi State is 2-1 after falling to Kansas State in week 3. It defeated Louisiana-Lafayette and Southern Mississippi in Weeks 1 and 2. The Bulldogs now host visiting Kentucky as 7.5-point favorites Saturday at 3 PM (CST) on the SEC Network. The game has an over/under set at 48.5 total points according to college football oddsmakers at 5dimes.
The Bulldogs had some costly miscues offensively and played relatively weak defense in its loss to K-State. Tommy Stevens completed just 7 of 15 while throwing two interceptions. The Bulldogs also fumbled one for a loss (Stevens’ was responsible). Meanwhile, it gave up 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns to K-State, though it did a good job of limiting K-State’s pass offense in holding it to 123 yards and just one score.
Mississippi State is still hoping for more from Stevens, who is now a senior. The 6-foot-5 Indianapolis native is in his first year as the starter, but he showed signs in his first three years albeit in rather limited snaps. This year, he has thrown 36 of 55 for 65.5 percent and has five TDs to his two INTs. His passer rating is a healthy 155.5. He has been sacked twice in every game, but that is tolerable considering his accuracy and his eight yards per pass attempt (while limiting the picks).
The Bulldogs backfield, particularly No. 1 back Kylin Hill, has been sensational, though. Hill averages 6.6 yards-per-carry on 65 attempts, already having amassed 431 yards through just three contests, all while scoring two of the Bulldogs’ eight rushing TDs. The Bulldogs averaged 5.4 yards-per-carry, with only QB Stevens being anything close to a liability. He has rushed for just 42 yards on his 24 attempts, though. Osirus Mitchell is dominating at wide receiver, too. He has caught 13 passes for 208 yards, both team highs. He also has three of the five receiving touchdowns. Between Hill and Mitchell, Stevens has two top-tier talents at two key skill positions. He needs only to continue to hone his connections with Mitchell and the latter receiving options for Mississippi State to be very elite offensively. It will have to tighten up its end zone defense and get better pressure from its ends on third downs. Doing both these things could propel it to an AP ranking, although the K-State loss stings those chances to a degree, right now.
Kentucky is 2-1 after falling to its longtime rival and usually falling to it, in Florida last week. Weeks 1 and 2 saw the Wildcats knock off lowly Toledo and Eastern Michigan. This week brings it a tough challenge as it plays its second SEC game of the season.
Kentucky had its problems with UF’s quarterback Feleipe Franks before he went down with an injury. Kyle Trask filled in admirably. The end result was Kentucky being battered for 300 passing yards between the two quarterbacks, while also giving up 138 rushing yards and 5.1 yards-per-carry.
Even with the Wildcats producing 400-plus yards of total offense, it was not really enough as the Gators won the game due to superior execution.
Sawyer Smith threw three interceptions to his two touchdowns, and he also fumbled once (and Kentucky did not recover). Those four turnovers offset an otherwise decent performance (23 of 35 for 267 yards and two touchdowns), and the Wildcats know that to have any sort of chance against the Bulldogs this week it cannot suffer four turnovers, nevermind all of them coming from its quarterback.
The brightest spot for the Wildcats has been the play of lead running back Kavosiey Smoke. Opponents have not been able to slow him as he has rushed 34 times for 251 yards and two touchdowns. Asim Rose leads the team in carries (47) but trails Smoke in yardage with 192 yards thus far. He has also scored two TDs.
Junior Terry Wilson was performing well at QB prior to going down for the remainder of the season with a torn patellar tendon. It is a fairly substantial loss considering that Wilson was both passing the ball well and making great gains rushing. He will be back next year as a senior, but losing him for this season cost Kentucky a lot— while the Wildcats may still make a Bowl appearance, any chances of being a real SEC threat are probably now down the drain, so to speak.