Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Mississippi State
Info to Know
|Kentucky vs. Mississippi State | When: Sat., Oct. 15, 7:30 p.m. ET | Where: Kroger Field, Lexington, Ky. | TV: SEC Network | Radio: UK Sports Network|
No. 22/22 Kentucky will play host to No. 16/17 Mississippi State in front of alumni, friends and community members for its annual Homecoming game Saturday. The game could also be labeled a homecoming for Bulldogs head coach Mike Leach, who was the Wildcats’ offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach in 1997 and 1998 under Hal Mumme. The ranked matchup will be under the lights for the second straight weekend at Kroger Field, with a 7:30 p.m. EDT kick off on the SEC Network. It will mark the first meeting between a ranked Kentucky team and a ranked Mississippi State team in school history.
The Wildcats are in the hunt for their first Southeastern Conference win at home, after following a 4-0 start to the season with two straight heartbreaking losses in the league at then-No. 14/11 Ole Miss and against South Carolina. The Wildcats are coming off a 24-14 loss to the Gamecocks but without starting signal caller Will Levis, who was unavailable with a foot injury. In the next game, UK will look to claim its first win against MSU since holding the Bulldogs to just two points two seasons ago, as the Wildcats enjoyed a 24-2 triumph in Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky, on Oct. 10, 2020.
Cat Scratches: Kentucky Defense Looks Shore Up Tackling This Week
The Kentucky defense went through something last week that they had not experienced so far this season – missed tackles.
The Cats saw South Carolina break some tackles as the Gamecocks beat the Cats 24-14 on Saturday night at Kroger Field. The UK defense knows that missing tackles is not something that can continue.
Defensive coordinator Brad White noted those miscues, and the fact that they have been a focus, after Wednesday’s practice.
“Missed tackles was a big issue,” White said. “We’ve got to play better, we’ve got to play crisper. We’ve got to put a full game together.”
Missing tackles is something that the Cats will need to clean up immediately due to this week’s opponent. Mississippi State, which employs the Air Raid offense, can make a defense pay for missed tackles. In fact, it happened to the Cats last season in Starkville…Read More
Kentucky-Mississippi State Series
• Kentucky trails the all-time series against Mississippi State, 25-24. However, the Wildcats lead the series in Lexington, 15-9.
• Mississippi State is UK’s permanent SEC Western Division opponent.
• It’s been a back-and-forth affair between the Wildcats and the Bulldogs for the last seven seasons, since 2015. During that span, the Cats have won every-other-game.
• Over the last six seasons, since 2016, the teams are split, 3-3, with each team winning at their respective homes.
• In the last two games hosted at Kroger Field, the Wildcats have held the Bulldogs to seven points or less. UK defeated MSU, 28-7, in 2018 and again, 24-2, in 2020.
• The last time the two teams met at Kroger Field, Kentucky held the Mike Leach-coached Bulldogs to the fewest points that any Leach-coached team has ever scored at the time. Previously, Leach-coached teams, which feature the Air Raid offense that Hal Mumme used at Kentucky, had never been held below three points.
Kentucky-Mississippi State Connections
• Kentucky’s roster has three players from the state of Mississippi, including WR Jordan Anthony (Tylertown), LS Cade Degraw (Lake Cormorant) and DL Josaih Hayes (Horn Lake).
• Moreover, DB Londyn Craft transferred to Kentucky as a graduate student, before fall camp, after playing four seasons at Mississippi State.
• Craft saw action in 20 career games, with eight starts, at State.
• There are no players from Kentucky on Mississippi State’s roster.
• Mississippi State head coach Mike Leach was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Kentucky during the 1997 and 1998 seasons under Hal Mumme.
• Leach helped mold former UK star quarterback Tim Couch into a Heisman Trophy finalist and No. 1 overall NFL draft pick.
• Miss. State athletics director John Cohen was the head baseball coach at Kentucky from 2004-08.
Kentucky vs. The Ranked
• Kentucky has played 262 ranked teams in the Associated Press poll in its history, while the Wildcats are 49-208-5 in those games. UK is 1-1 vs. the ranked this season.
• Since 2015, the Wildcats are 10-13 against ranked teams.
• Kentucky has won four of its last six ranked meetings, including No. 23 NC State in 2020, No. 10 Florida and No. 17 Iowa in 2021 and No. 12 Florida in 2022.
• Kentucky’s last ranked win was earlier this season at No. 12 Florida, 26-16, on Sept. 10, 2022.
• This will mark the first meeting between a ranked Kentucky team and a ranked Mississippi State team in school history.
• UK is 2-7 all-time vs. a ranked Mississippi State. The two wins came in 1953, a 32-13 win over the 20th-ranked Bulldogs in Lexington and in 2018, a 28-7 win over the 14th-ranked Bulldogs in Lexington.
• The last time the Wildcats played and also defeated a ranked Mississippi State team was in 2018, when unranked (but receiving votes) Wildcats upset the 14th-ranked Bulldogs, 28-7, in Lexington.
A UK Win Would…
• Be the Wildcats’ fourth straight win against the Bulldogs in Lexington.
• Help Kentucky to a 5-2 record on the season (just one win away from bowl eligibility), the fifth time in head coach Mark Stoops era the program has got off to as good of a start joining 2014, 2017, 2018 and 2021.
• Extend Stoops’ all-time record of wins at Kentucky to 64, his all-time record of SEC wins at Kentucky to 31 and his all-time record of wins at Kentucky at home to 45.
• Give UK its second win over a ranked opponent this season. UK also defeated No. 12/19 Florida on Sept. 10.
By the Numbers
Points scored by Mississippi State in the Bulldogs’ last trip to Lexington (2020)
Touchdown passes needed for Will Levis to move into fifth on UK’s career TD pass list
Career interceptions by UK defensive back Keidron Smith, the most among current Kentucky players
Rushing yards needed by Chris Rodriguez Jr. to become the fourth UK player to ever rush for 3,000 yards
Yards passing needed for Levis to pass Babe Parilli for eighth on the UK career passing yards list