UK Football

Kentucky at LSU: How they match up and a game prediction

Mark Story

LSU's Leonard Fournette ran against Florida. The freshman leads the Tigers with 504 yards rushing and six TDs.
LSU's Leonard Fournette ran against Florida. The freshman leads the Tigers with 504 yards rushing and six TDs. AP

How Kentucky and LSU match up for Saturday's game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La.:

QUARTERBACKS

Kentucky sophomore Patrick Towles says the Cats believe they can win out. Towles has his own reasons to think that. His career record as a starting quarterback, high school and college combined, is 43-2. LSU has struggled at QB. Sophomore Anthony Jennings has made six starts but is completing only 46.5 percent of his passes. True freshman Brandon Harris started at Auburn and had a rough go (3-for-14 passing, 58 yards).

Advantage: Kentucky

RUNNING BACKS

UK true freshman Stanley "Boom" Williams had his first career 100-yards-plus rushing game last week against Louisiana-Monroe (104 yards). The Georgia product is the third Kentucky running back to go over 100 yards in a game this season, joining Braylon Heard (116 yards vs. Tennessee-Martin) and Jojo Kemp (131 vs. South Carolina). Much-hyped LSU true freshman Leonard Fournette leads the Tigers with 504 yards rushing and six TDs. In his first career start at Florida, he ran for 140 yards and two TDs.

Advantage: LSU

WIDE RECEIVERS

Senior Javess Blue had both an 83-yard TD catch and a juggling, one-handed TD grab for UK vs. ULM. Ex-Franklin County standout Ryan Timmons (27 catches) continues to be the Cats' leading receiver. LSU sophomore Travin Dural is explosive, averaging 26.1 yards on his team-high 24 catches. He has six TD grabs, and true freshman Malachi Dupre (11 catches, 23.4 yards average) has four.

Advantage: Kentucky

TIGHT ENDS

It was another week with no catches for Kentucky seniors Steven Borden and Ronnie Shields. Neither has caught a pass since UK's season opener. LSU starter Dillon Gordon has not caught a pass this season. The 6-foot-4, 295-pound junior is considered a top-level blocker, however.

Advantage: LSU

OFFENSIVE LINEMEN

Redshirt freshman Ramsey Meyers has started every game for Kentucky at right guard. The UK offensive line has allowed 11 sacks — but only five in its three SEC games. Les Miles said his team's offensive line "played well start to finish" at Florida. The LSU head man said senior tackle La'el Collins, a 6-foot-5, 321-pound behemoth, turned in a "dominant performance" in Gainesville.

Advantage: LSU

DEFENSIVE LINEMEN

Three Kentucky defensive linemen had sacks vs ULM — tackle Cory Johnson (two) and ends Alvin "Bud" Dupree (1.5) and Za'Darius Smith (one). The big question for UK vs. LSU is whether the Cats can stand up to the Tigers' punishing ground game. LSU junior end Danielle Hunter is active — his 40 tackles are second on the Tigers team. The 6-6, 240-pound junior has six tackles for loss.

Advantage: Even

LINEBACKERS

Mark Stoops said Kentucky junior weak-side linebacker Khalid Henderson (six tackles, one tackle for loss) "played his best game" against ULM. LSU weak-side linebacker Kwon Alexander leads the Tigers in tackles (46). Kentucky offensive coordinator Neal Brown says the 6-2, 227-pound junior is "probably the best linebacker that we've played to this point."

Advantage: LSU

SECONDARY

Kentucky senior safety Ashely Lowery led the Cats in tackles vs. ULM (seven). Sophomore backup safety Marcus McWilson picked off his second pass of the season last week and returned it for a TD. LSU's secondary is long — all starters taller than 6-foot — and talented. The Tigers lead the SEC in pass defense (allowing 157.7 yards a game). Sophomore cornerback Tre'Davious White and backup safety Rickey Jefferson each has two interceptions.

Advantage: LSU

SPECIAL TEAMS

UK freshman Stanley "Boom" Williams now leads the SEC in kickoff returns (averaging 36 yards). Landon Foster pinned ULM inside the 20 all five times he punted last week. J.D. Harmon, the leading Kentucky special teams tackler (five), is suspended for the first half Saturday. LSU place-kicker Colby Delahoussaye is 5-for-7 on field goals and beat Florida with a 50-yarder with 3 seconds left. Punter Jamie Keehn is averaging a robust 45.6 yards a kick.

Advantage: LSU

PREDICTION

LSU 23, Kentucky 21

MARK STORY

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