Kentucky Football Embarks Upon Thursday Primetime Matchup at Mississippi State

Oct. 23, 2013

After going through the toughest four-game stretch in school history, Kentucky will hit the road for a primetime matchup with Mississippi State on Thursday.

Kentucky Alabama
Kentucky vs. Mississippi State
Thurs., Oct. 24 - 7:30 p.m. ET
Starkville, Miss.
Game Notes: UK Get Acrobat Reader | MSU Get Acrobat Reader
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UK 2013 Team Stats MSU
20.3 Scoring/game 30.5
17.2 First downs/game 23.7
352.3 Total offense/game 457.5
150.8 Rushing yards/game 214.3
201.5 Passing yards/game 243.2
24.8 Kickoff returns (avg) 31.2
7.8 Punt returns (avg) 0.3
35.1 Punting (avg) 37.9
25:57 Time of possession/game 33:42
25.7 Third down conversion 35.9
69.2 Fourth down conversion 47.1
+1 Turnover margin +4
29.3 Points allowed/game 23.0
437.3 Total yards allowed/game 364.5
213.3 Rush yards allowed/game 144.0
224.0 Pass yards allowed/game 220.5

Both teams are coming off an open date. UK will be looking to bounce back from a loss to top-ranked Alabama on Saturday, Oct. 12, while Mississippi State defeated Bowling Green 21-20 in its last outing.

Although Kentucky and Mississippi State play in the Southeastern Conference Eastern and Western Divisions respectively, the two teams have met as permanent cross-divisional rivals every year since 1990, with the Bulldogs claiming a 14-9 advantage in that span, having won four in a row.

Individually, senior linebacker Avery Williamson ranks third the SEC with 38 total tackles on the season, and he is averaging 10.7 tackles per game. The two players who have more tackles than Williamson have played an one game more than Williamson has. Both of UK’s starting defensive linemen rank inside the SEC top 15 in sacks. Za’Darius Smith has the sixth most in the league 4.5, while Alvin “Bud” Dupree ranks 12th with 3.5 sacks on the season. Both Williamson and cornerback Fred Tiller are tied for the lead with two fumble recoveries.

Cat Scratches: Unique test awaits rejuvenated Cats on Thursday

The timing was close to ideal.

Of course Kentucky would have liked to have gotten back on the field immediately to wash away the taste of defeat, but bye weeks are built into the long college football season for a reason. The Wildcats, with 12 days between games against Alabama and Mississippi State, took full advantage of theirs. ... read the full preview

Scouting Mississippi State

Like Kentucky, Mississippi State is coming off a bye week after going out of Southeastern Conference play two weeks ago to defeat Bowling Green at home, 21-20. The Bulldogs are 3-3 this season with a 0-2 start in conference play. Mississippi State dropped its first two conference games at Auburn and home vs. LSU.

Mississippi State is led on offense by sophomore quarterback Dak Prescott, who leads the team in passing and rushing. Prescott has completed 63-of-116 passes this season with three touchdowns and three interceptions, while he has also rushed 64 times for 457 yards and eight touchdowns. MSU has used two quarterbacks most of the season with senior quarterback Tyler Russell sitting second in passing completing 70.7 percent of his passes for 381 yards and two touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Jameon Lewis paces the team in receiving with 23 catches for 393 yards and three touchdowns, while fellow junior Robert Johnson has 13 catches for 178 yards and sophomore Joe Morrow has 13 catches for 151 yards.

Defensively, Mississippi State ranks seventh in the SEC in scoring defense allowing 23.0 points per game, while the Bulldogs are fourth in total defense, sixth in rushing defense and seventh in pass defense. The Bulldog defense has been led this season by sophomore linebacker Benardrick McKinney, who has 36 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for loss, two quarterback hurries and one fumble recovery. Senior linebacker Deontae Skinner has 34 tackles this season with 3.5 tackles for loss, a sack and three interceptions. Junior defensive back Justin Cox leads the team in pass breakups with three adding 13 tackles.