UK Football

Mark Story: With Dak Prescott coming to town, UK may have a chance to remove its 'Heisman hex'

Mississippi State's Dak Prescott has quarterbacked his team to three victories over foes ranked in the top 10 so far this season.
Mississippi State's Dak Prescott has quarterbacked his team to three victories over foes ranked in the top 10 so far this season. AP

The presumptive Heisman Trophy favorite will be in Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday.

Dak Prescott has quarterbacked Mississippi State to three victories over teams rated in the top 10. Doing a pretty fair Tim Tebow imitation — the MSU QB wears No. 15 for a reason — Prescott has run for 576 yards and eight touchdowns and thrown for 1,478 yards and 14 TDs.

In last week's USA TODAY Sports Heisman Trophy Survey, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior from Haughton, La., had a huge lead over Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota (second) and Wisconsin running back Melvin Gordon (third).

The next stop on the State quarterback's Heisman campaign is in Lexington. A CBS national broadcast will allow the country to see if Kentucky can ground the joyride on which Prescott has taken Mississippi State in 2014.

Over its history, Kentucky has played against the eventual Heisman Trophy winner in the same season in which that player won the most prestigious award in college sports eight times. This is how the Cats have fared:

1942. Frank Sinkwich. The Georgia back launched the season that made him the SEC's first Heisman winner against UK in the season opener played in Louisville. Sinkwich was stellar, running for 79 yards, throwing for 111 more and scoring Georgia's only TD on a 3-yard run. That allowed the Bulldogs to escape with a 7-6 win.

1959. Billy Cannon. This was the year of the LSU star's legendary Halloween night punt return touchdown that beat No. 3 Mississippi. Two weeks before that electric moment, Cannon did not produce fireworks in Lexington. UK held the running back to 11 yards rushing on 11 carries. The Cats still lost, however, 9-0.

1971. Pat Sullivan. The Auburn quarterback lit up The Loveliest Village on the Plains by completing 16 of 25 passes for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 38-6 pasting of John Ray's visiting Wildcats.

1982. Herschel Walker. Kentucky would finish 0-10-1 in Jerry Claiborne's first season as head coach at his alma mater. However, the Wildcats gave heavily favored Georgia quite a fright. Before a stunned Commonwealth Stadium crowd, Kentucky opened up a 14-3 first-half lead. Carrying the ball a whopping 34 times, Walker helped pound the plucky Cats into submission by gaining 152 yards and scoring a touchdown in a 27-14 Georgia victory.

1996. Danny Wuerffel. On a brutal day for Kentucky in The Swamp, then-Florida coach Steve Spurrier only used his star quarterback for one half. Wuerffel made it count, going 21-for-32 passing for 279 yards and three touchdowns to help Florida pulverize Bill Curry's Wildcats 65-0.

2007. Tim Tebow. In his Commonwealth Stadium debut, the Florida sophomore QB ran for 78 yards and a score. He threw for 256 yards and four TDs. In an action-packed shootout with Kentucky quarterback Andre Woodson, Tebow led the Gators to a 45-37 victory.

2009. Mark Ingram Jr. The Alabama running back ran for 140 yards and two TDs as the Saban-ic forces bested Randall Cobb, Derrick Locke and the homestanding Wildcats 38-20.

2010. Cam Newton. Auburn's quarterback threw for 210 yards on 13-of-21 passing, but did the real damage to UK with his legs. Newton ran 28 times for 194 yards and four touchdowns. Auburn needed every one of them, escaping a spirited upset bid by the host Cats on a field goal at the buzzer for a 37-34 victory.

That brings us back to Prescott and Mississippi State this Saturday at 3:30 p.m.

A year ago when Kentucky visited Starkville, Prescott ran for only 33 yards against the Cats, but he threw for 268 yards and two TDs in a 28-22 MSU victory.

This year, Prescott has been a far more refined player.

In MSU's win over then-No. 8 LSU, he accounted for 373 total yards and three TDs. When the Bulldogs downed then-No. 6 Texas A&M, Prescott ran for three TDs and threw for two more. As MSU handled then-No. 2 Auburn, Prescott ran for 121 yards and two TDs and also threw a touchdown pass.

That's how you become the Heisman front-runner.

Kentucky is 0-8 all-time in games against teams on which the eventual Heisman Trophy winner played. On Saturday, the Cats could put the kibosh on Prescott's Heisman hopes — or maybe just remove a "Heisman hex" of its own.

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