Three key questions
After getting shellacked at LSU, can UK get its mojo back? Amid a special-teams meltdown and a mostly punchless offense, what had been a feel-good UK season went off the rails last Saturday in Baton Rouge. Coming off a 41-3 pasting to LSU is not the ideal set-up to facing the top-ranked team in the country. So was Kentucky's belief shaken by the Bayou beatdown or do the Wildcats play like a team with a point to prove? From the UK perspective, that is the crucial aspect of the game.
Can Kentucky derail the Dak Prescott Heisman campaign? Across many years, dual-threat quarterbacks have been the kryptonite of Kentucky defenses. This season, there is no better run/throw QB than Mississippi State's Dak Prescott. Growing up in Haughton, La., the 6-foot-2, 230-pound junior idolized Tim Tebow. While leading State to three wins over top-10 foes, Prescott (576 yards and eight touchdowns rushing; 1,478 yards and 14 TDs passing) has done a pretty fair imitation. Tebow always killed Kentucky; it will be highly interesting to see if Mark Stoops and D.J. Eliot can slow down Prescott.
Will Kentucky find an offensive rhythm? At LSU, Kentucky couldn't run the ball (71 yards rushing). The Cats had trouble giving the quarterback enough time to throw. UK's wide receivers struggled to get open (no wideout with more than 52 receiving yards). Patrick Towles had all but no chance. Strangely for a team ranked No. 1 in the country, Mississippi State is last in the SEC in total defense (allowing 428.8 yards a game, 308.3 through the air). To have any chance at a program-altering upset, Kentucky has to get its passing attack untracked.
The mo od
Is sobered after Kentucky hit a reality check in Louisiana. One blowout loss does not negate all the positive momentum UK established by winning five of its first six games — but a second one would not look good. Against the No. 1 team in the nation on the big stage that is a CBS national broadcast, UK needs to give a spirited account of itself.