Mississippi State at Kentucky
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Commonwealth Stadium
TV: SEC Network (play-by-play Mark Jones; analyst Rod Gilmore; sideline Quint Kessenich)
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Radio: WLAP AM-630, WBUL FM-98.1, XM Channel 191, Sirius Channel 113
Series: Mississippi State leads 22-21 and has won seven in a row
Last meeting: Mississippi State won 42-16 on Oct. 24, 2015, in Starkville.
Favorite: Mississippi State is favored by 3 points
Kentucky will try to beat a Dan Mullen-coached Mississippi State team for the first time after seven defeats. The Cats will try to move Mark Stoops closer to his first bowl trip as UK head coach by winning for the fourth time in their past five games.
On the spot
Stephen Johnson II. Since the back injury that sidelined starting quarterback Drew Barker, Kentucky is 3-1 in games in which Johnson has played the preponderance of snaps. However, Johnson struggled through the air (10-for-24 for only 49 yards with one interception) in UK’s 20-13 win over Vanderbilt. Mississippi State has given up more touchdown passes (13) than any team in the SEC, but can Johnson throw it well enough to take advantage?
The main threat
Nick Fitzgerald might not be Dak Prescott, but the new Mississippi State starting quarterback, a 6-foot-5, 230-pound sophomore from Richmond Hill, Ga., leads MSU in both passing (998 yards) and rushing (431). In other words, State still has the type of dual-threat QB that historically has given Kentucky defenses fits.
Could be headed toward some good vibrations. After the fan base toxicity that accompanied Kentucky’s 0-2 start, the Wildcats have won three of their last four, including SEC wins over South Carolina and Vanderbilt. UK’s next three games are against 2-4 Mississippi State, at 2-4 Missouri and vs. 4-3 Georgia. Assuming UK is a lock to beat Austin Peay (0-6) of the FCS, bowl eligibility for the Cats rides on winning two of the next three.