Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Ball State

Big Blue Preview: Kentucky vs. Ball State

Info to Know

Kentucky vs. Ball State | When: Sat., Sept. 2, 12 p.m. ET | Where: Kroger Field, Lexington, Ky. | TV: SEC Network | Radio: UK Sports Network


The University of Kentucky football program begins an anticipated season in 2023. There is a lot for Big Blue Nation to be excited about this season, from a coordinator combination that has proven success in the Bluegrass, to well versed leaders in the locker room, to developing talent primed to take a step up, to an impressive group of transfers that are itching to stand out.

In the Kentucky-Ball State season opener, fans will get a first look at a remodeled offensive line, an anticipated wide receiver room and a revamped running back room, paired with transfer quarterback Devin Leary. They’ll also see a younger but still talented UK defense, highlighted by linebacker J.J. Weaver, who returned for his senior season after opting out of the 2022 NFL Draft, and sophomore defensive lineman Deone Walker, who earned All-SEC honors as a true freshman.

Cat Scratches: Devin Leary Ready to ‘Rock the Blue’ on Saturday

Devin Leary has not played in a college football game in nearly 11 months. As the quarterback for N.C. State last season, Leary was injured against Florida State on October 8, 2022, and he has not played since.

That will change on Saturday when Leary, now the quarterback at Kentucky, takes the field in the Wildcats’ season opener against Ball State. Leary is ready to get the 2023 season going.

“It’s been a long time since I’ve played football,” Leary said. “Just can’t wait to go out, first time rocking the blue, Kroger Field. I’m excited. I can’t wait to get out there and compete with my teammates.”

Kentucky offensive coordinator Liam Coen has been impressed with Leary’s preparation during fall camp. The OC and the quarterback have a solid working relationship…Read More

Kentucky-Ball State Series

• The Kentucky-Ball State contest marks the second all-time meeting between the two teams, with UK leading the series, 1-0.
• The Wildcats and the Cardinals lone match up was on Sept. 8, 2001, when the Cats beat the Cardinals, 28-20, at then-Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky.
• Kentucky will face two Mid-American Conference opponents in 2023, including Ball State and Akron (Sept. 16).
• UK has a 35-7-1 all-time record against the current alignment of the MAC.

Kentucky-Ball State Connections

• Ball State has three players on its roster who are from the state of Kentucky:
• Freshman offensive lineman Tristan Cook (Woodford County High School)
• Freshman running back TJ Horton (Frederick Douglass)
• Redshirt freshman linebacker Caden Johnson (Frederick Douglass)

Cats in Season Openers

• Saturday is the season opener for both teams.
• UK is 90-37-5 in all-time season openers, including 7-3 under Mark Stoops.
• The Wildcats have won 12 of their past 16 season openers, including five of the last six.
• The Wildcats have won the last four times they opened the season at home (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022), the most since the Cats opened at home and won them all from 1987-1994.

A UK Win Would…

• Give UK its 20th nonconference win in its last 21 non-conference games and 17 straight in the regular season.
• Give UK its 15th straight nonconference win at Kroger Field.
• Give UK its fifth straight season-opening win.
• Extend head coach Mark Stoops’ all-time school record for wins to 67.
• Extend Stoops’ record in season openers at UK to 8-3.

By the Numbers

Touchdown receptions by Dane Key last season, the most ever by a UK freshman

Wins, against just 12 losses, for Mark Stoops in games played in the months of August and September

Wins for UK since 2018, the fifth-highest total in the Southeastern Conference during that span

Career touchdown passes by Devin Leary during his four years at N.C. State

Career rushing yards for UK running back Ramon Jefferson in stops at Maine, Sam Houston State and Kentucky



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