No. 12 Kentucky travels to Mississippi State, looking for first win there since 2008
Published 1:32 pm Friday, October 29, 2021
No. 12 Kentucky (6-1, 4-1 SEC) at Mississippi State (4-3, 2-2), Saturday at 7:30 p.m. EDT (SEC).
Line: Kentucky by 1 1/2, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
Series record: Tied at 24.
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WHAT’S AT STAKE?
Kentucky emerges from a bye after a 30-13 loss at top-ranked Georgia looking to get back on track and win in Starkville for the first time since 2008. Mississippi State looks to follow up a 45-6 pasting of hapless Vanderbilt by avenging last year’s 24-2 beating by Kentucky in Lexington.
Mississippi State quarterback Will Rogers vs. Kentucky’s secondary. The SEC’s top passer (363.7 yards per game) presents a challenge for every opponent and is coming off a 384-yard, four-touchdown performance at Vandy. The sophomore has 2,546 yards and 18 TDs in the Air Raid. The Wildcats rank seventh in SEC pass defense (202 yards allowed). Kentucky has a multitude of targets to cover in a fast-paced attack where Rogers throws early and often, short and deep.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Mississippi State receiver Makai Polk averages a league-best 8.3 catches per game and has 552 yards receiving (sixth). He was one of five Bulldogs with five receptions at Vanderbilt and led the team with TD catches of 31 and 9 yards while finishing with 63 yards.
Kentucky running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. remains the SEC’s rushing leader (775 yards, 127 carries) despite a week off after his disappointing seven-carry, seven-yard performance at Georgia. The junior ranks ninth in school history and needs 375 yards to tie eighth-place Boom Williams (2,511). His 22 career TDs are just three shy of tying for fourth all-time.
FACTS & FIGURES
Kentucky and Mississippi rank 3-4 in SEC defense, with the Wildcats allowing six fewer yards per game (320.8) than the Bulldogs. … Kentucky held MSU’s offense scoreless last year and intercepted six passes in the victory, including two off Rogers. … The Wildcats seek consecutive series wins since 2005-06. … The Bulldogs are 14-7 against Kentucky in Starkville. … Wildcats QB Will Levis ranks 10th in SEC passing yards per game (189.4). … The Bulldogs posted their second 500-yard offensive effort last week under second-year coach Mike Leach, who worked as Kentucky’s coordinator in 1997 and ’98.