Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Youngstown State
Info to Know
|Youngstown State at Kentucky | When: Sat., Sept. 17, 12 p.m. ET | Where: Kroger Field | TV: SEC Network | Radio: UK Sports Network
No. 9/10 Kentucky returns to the Bluegrass Saturday to play host to Youngstown State just a week removed from taking down then-No. 12/19 Florida in The Swamp, 26-16. It marked the second straight win over the Gators, something that hasn’t happened in 45 years (since 1976-77), but it was a monumental win for all of the Commonwealth and the Big Blue Nation as head coach Mark Stoops passed Paul “Bear” Bryant as the winningest head coach in program history.
Stoops, a native of Youngstown, Ohio, now returns to Kroger Field looking to continue his winning streak and chart his fourth 3-0 start when the Cats meet the Penguins of Youngstown State. It will mark the first meeting between teams in school history.
Saturday is Heroes’ Day at Kroger Field. UK will recognize heroes from throughout active duty military, police, fire and first responders as well as frontline healthcare workers throughout the game.
Cat Scratches: Levis, Cats Hope Experience Will Prove Beneficial Against YSU
The scenario facing the Kentucky football team this week is one that is very familiar to the players who were on the UK team last season.
Kentucky had started the 2021 season with a big win over Louisiana-Monroe before facing a tough battle with Missouri in the Southeastern Conference opener. The Cats clawed their way past the Tigers 35-28 to move to 2-0 overall and 1-0 in league play.
The next week, Kentucky hosted Chattanooga, an FCS opponent that figured to be a mismatch for the Cats. Turns out, it was exactly the opposite.
The Mocs not only hung with the Cats, they actually had a 16-14 lead in the fourth quarter. Kentucky would eventually pull away, scoring 14 points in a row, then hanging on in the end for a 28-23 victory.
This week, the Cats are coming off an emotional 26-16 win at Florida, a win that moved UK to 2-0 and 1-0 in SEC play…Read More
A UK Win Would…
• Be its first against Youngstown State, in its first all-time meeting with the Penguins.
• Be the fourth time in the Mark Stoops era that Kentucky has gotten off to a 3-0 start to the season, joining 2017, 2018 and 2021.
• Extend Stoops’ all-time winning record at Kentucky to 62 and his all-time winning record at home to 43.
• Extend UK’s non-conference win streak to 18 games, longest active streak in the nation.
Kentucky-Youngstown State Ties
• Youngstown State has one player on its roster from Kentucky in Devin Johnson from Paintsville, Kentucky.
• Sophomore linebacker Johnson, who played at Johnson Central High School, saw time in both of the Penguins’ games this season, recording a combined eight tackles, including five solo tackles. Impressively, he had two interceptions in the season opener against Duquesne, both of which created drives that produced a touchdown.
• Youngstown State will also travel its top receiver in Bryce Oliver, who played for Kentucky in 2018-20.
• While in the Bluegrass, Oliver saw action in 20 games, combining for eight catches for 125 yards and one touchdown between his redshirt freshman (2019) and sophomore (2020) seasons.
• The Penguins’ coaching staff have one Kentucky connection in offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Troy Rothenbuhler.
• Rothenbuhler was the tight ends coach at Eastern Kentucky in 2019. He helped the Colonels to a 7-5 record, and assisted EKU to lead its conference, and finish 20th in the nation, in rushing.
Kentucky’s Youngstown Boys
• A neighbor of Pittsburgh, a.k.a. Steel City USA, Youngstown, Ohio, has a reputation as a blue collar community defined by hard work and relationships forged over generations that are stronger than steel. Kentucky’s football program is, in many ways, defined by that bond as it creates a southern alumni club from Youngstown, the hometown of head coach Mark Stoops and his brother Mike Stoops and several other key members of the program. Below is a list of staffers and players from Youngstown:
• Mark Stoops – Head Coach (Cardinal Mooney), Mike Stoops – Inside Linebackers Coach (Cardinal Mooney), Vince Marrow – Recruiting Coord./Tight Ends (Cardinal Mooney), Frank Buffano – Safeties (Cardinal Mooney), Courtney Love – Grad Assistant (Cardinal Mooney), Luke Fulton – Junior, inside linebacker (Cardinal Mooney) and Sean O’Horo – freshman, running back (Boardman).
By the Numbers
True freshmen in UK history to catch a touchdown pass in each of his first two games (Dane Key)
Straight wins by UK over non-conference opponents
Consecutive games with a reception by Tayvion Robinson, currently eighth in the FBS
Career games played by DeAndre Square, most on the current UK roster
Wins by Stoops, a school record