Three key questions
Will "Bud" and "Z" get untracked? Much of Kentucky's preseason hype was focused on standout senior defensive ends Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith. Yet in UK's season-opening 59-14 thumping of Tennessee-Martin, Smith (five tackles, none for loss) and Dupree (four tackles, none for loss) were quiet. It didn't matter against the overmatched Skyhawks, but for Kentucky to have any aspirations of being a surprise team in 2014, it needs to get its potentially disruptive ends going.
Is the UK offensive line as good as it looked in week one? Against UT-Martin, the Wildcats' offensive front opened gaping holes that allowed UK to run for 224 yards and six TDs. Kentucky did not allow one sack of Patrick Towles, either — and all of that was without veteran left tackle Darrian Miller, who sat out a one-game suspension. Ohio should be a better test. The Bobcats have eight defensive starters back from 2013, including their entire defensive line. In last week's victory over Kent State, Ohio held the Golden Flashes to 31 yards rushing, and the Bobcats made eight tackles for loss. Still, against a Mid-American Conference defense (even a good one), Kentucky's offensive line needs to impose its will.
Can Braylon Heard go? As first impressions in Kentucky football go, has anyone ever made a better one than Heard? The running back, a transfer from Nebraska, touched the ball twice against UT-Martin. The first time, Heard scooted 73 yards for a touchdown. The second time, he went 43 yards for a score, making an electric move to elude a defender near the goal line. However, the 5-foot-11, 189-pound junior from Youngstown, Ohio, sprained an ankle on that play and Mark Stoops said late this week he was "doubtful" for Ohio. If Heard can go, you know what will be fun? Seeing if he can maintain his 58 yards per carry average.
The mood Is guardedly optimistic. For the first time since Sept. 24, 2011, Kentucky will enter a football game with a winning record. If UK has any chance to make a surprise bowl trip in 2014, a victory over Ohio is mandatory. That should happen. As bad as UK has been the past two years (4-20), it's still been able to whack the MAC — the Cats blasted Miami (Ohio) 41-7 in 2013 and whipped Kent State 47-14 in 2012.