Gameday: UK at Mississippi State

October 30, 2010 

Kentucky (4-4 overall, 1-4 SEC)at Mississippi State (6-2, 2-2)

When: 7 p.m. TV: ESPNU

Where: Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss.

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1

Series: Kentucky leads 21-16

Last meeting: Mississippi State won 31-24 on Oct. 31, 2009, in Lexington.

Line: Mississippi State is favored by 6 1/2 points.

The keys

Handle the atmosphere

With Mississippi State being ranked and this being a night game, Davis-Wade Stadium (and the cowbells) will be cranked up. The last time Kentucky played on the road at night it got waxed 48-14 at Florida. The Wildcats have a veteran offense and should be able to deal with the crowd noise, but if they get flustered it could get ugly quick.

Get the Bulldogs off the field

When teams have needed to go on long drives against the UK defense, they've been able to do just that. Last week, the Cats couldn't stop Georgia from running the ball and killing eight minutes even though they loaded up against the run. State will probably try to chew up clock and keep the Kentucky offense on the sideline. The defense needs to force some three-and-outs.

Don't turn it over

If it sounds simple, that's because it is. When Kentucky hasn't put it on the ground, it has been able to move the ball against anybody. The last thing the Cats need to do is give the grind-it-out Bulldogs a short field or two to work with.

The Mood

Last week's 44-31 loss to Georgia stole a lot of Kentucky's momentum, but all is not lost. There will be no SEC East title, but that was a long shot anyway. This is the toughest game remaining on UK's schedule. Win Saturday night, and an eight-win regular season (which UK hasn't had since 1984) and a Chick-fil-A Bowl bid are still in play. Lose, and the only real thing the Cats have to play for is their first win over Tennessee in 26 years.

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