UK Football

UK-Miss. State matchups

Matchups

How Kentucky and Mississippi State match up in Saturday's game at Starkville:

Quarterback

The Wildcats will turn to true freshman Randall Cobb to try to energize a stagnant offense. Mississippi State has a junior-college transfer running the show in Tyson Lee, who's similar in size to Cobb (5-foot-11, 190 pounds). Lee has thrown for 858 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions in four starts this season.

Advantage: Even

Running back

The Bulldogs have a proven veteran in junior Anthony Dixon, who eclipsed the 1,000-yard barrier last season and has rushed for 599 yards and six scores in 2008. The Wildcats will rely on a three-player committee featuring Moncell Allen, Alfonso Smith and Tony Dixon.

Advantage: Mississippi State

Wide receiver

Big plays have been missing from both the Wildcats and Bulldogs offenses. MSU receiver Brandon McRae has 37 catches but is averaging just 9.8 yards per catch. Junior E.J. Adams and freshman Gene McCaskill are the latest Wildcats to get a start in UK's revolving door at the position.

Advantage: Even

Offensive line

Both lines have struggled to create holes in the running game, although the Wildcats have been better at pass protection. Kentucky should get a boost from the return of right tackle Justin Jeffries from a knee injury. MSU sophomore center J.C. Brignone was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week for his performance against Middle Tennessee.

Advantage: Even

Defensive line

UK defensive end Ventrell Jenkins is coming off a season-high six-tackle performance against Florida, and senior defensive tackle Myron Pryor might see action after missing last week with a high ankle sprain. The Bulldogs are tied for last in the league in sacks (12) and are next-to-last in run defense.

Advantage: Kentucky

Linebacker

The Wildcats will be much healthier this week after all the starters played hurt last week against Florida. Middle linebacker Micah Johnson should play a big role against an MSU offense that will try to use a smash-mouth style against the Wildcats. Senior Dominic Douglas (58 tackles, four tackles for loss) is the Bulldogs' primary playmaker.

Advantage: Kentucky

Secondary

UK corner Trevard Lindley continues to make big plays, coming up with an interception and a pass deflection at Florida. Mississippi State free safety Derek Pegues earned first-team All-SEC honors last year after picking off five passes and anchors the Bulldogs secondary.

Advantage: Kentucky

Special teams

State hasn't gotten much from its special teams, either. The return units haven't generated much, kicker Adam Carlson has missed three field goals from 40 yards or shorter and Blake McAdam's punting average (37.0) is the worst in the SEC.

Advantage: Even

Chip Cosby

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