UK Football

Mark Story: Three key questions about Saturday's Kentucky-LSU game

LSU fans cheer in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
LSU fans cheer in the second half of an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert) AP

THE GAME

Kentucky (5-1, 2-1 SEC) at LSU (5-2, 1-2)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play Brent Musburger; analysis Jesse Palmer; sideline Maria Taylor)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 93

Series: LSU leads 39-16-1

Last meeting: LSU won 35-7 in Baton Rouge on Oct. 1, 2011.

Line: LSU is favored by 10 points.

THREE KEY QUESTIONS

Can Kentucky tame the rowdy Tiger Stadium crowd with a fast start?

There's no more raucous SEC home environment than in Baton Rouge on a Saturday night. Under Les Miles, the Bayou Bengals are 44-3 in Saturday night games in Tiger Stadium. For Kentucky to pull the upset, a fast start would seem vital. That's been problematic lately for the Cats. Kentucky has scored only 10 points in the opening quarter in its last four contests combined.

Can UK exploit LSU's run defense?

Before its victory over Florida last Saturday in The Swamp, the LSU defensive front had not exactly been in lock-down mode versus the run. Against Wisconsin, Mississippi State and Auburn, LSU surrendered an average of 289.3 yards a game on the ground. The Tigers were stouter in Gainesville, holding the Gators to 123 yards rushing. Whether it is from its normal offense or from the Wildcat formation with Jojo Kemp, Kentucky needs to find a way to exploit LSU via the ground.

Will Kentucky's defense slow LSU freshman sensation Leonard Fournette?

In the preseason, Les Miles compared the potential impact of the lavishly hyped, 6-foot-1, 225-pound freshman running back from New Orleans to Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods. At Florida, Fournette had his best game to date, running for 140 yards and two touchdowns. With an inconsistent passing attack, LSU is apt to try to pound UK with its running game. Against quality SEC competition, Kentucky has struggled to stop the run, giving up 237 yards to Florida and 282 to South Carolina. The Cats must stack the box and make LSU try to beat them through the air.

THE MOOD

Is expectant. Kentucky's 5-1 start, with the sole loss in triple overtime at Florida, has exceeded most preseason expectations. A UK victory in Baton Rouge would authenticate dreams of the Cats making a surprise bid for the SEC East title. It won't be easy. No SEC West team has yet lost a game to any foe from outside the division.

MARK STORY

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