Murray State at Kentucky
When: Noon, Saturday
Where: Kroger Field
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 191, Sirius Channel 103
Records: Kentucky (2-0, 1-0 SEC); Murray State (0-2, 0-0 OVC)
Series: Kentucky leads 1-0
Favorite: No line
Where to find the SEC Network alternate channel:
Spectrum Cable: Channel 518
DISH Network: Channels 596-599; with the Hopper digital box, channels 404.1, 404.2 or 404.3
DirecTV: Channel 611-1*
The story line
Coming off one of the sweetest victories in Kentucky football history, a 27-16 win over Florida that snapped a 31-game losing streak against the Gators, Coach Mark Stoops and the Wildcats will seek to avoid an emotional letdown against intrastate foe Murray State. UK is billing the game as its annual “Heroes Day” and active and reserve members of the military as well as first responders can get two complimentary tickets (while supplies last) by presenting a valid service ID.
The big threat
Is complacency. UK’s victory over Florida in The Swamp was one of the most emotional wins the Wildcats have ever registered. It will be a test for Kentucky to move past celebrating and “come to play” against Coach Mitch Stewart’s winless Racers. Murray State, a Football Championship Subdivision program, has allowed 55, 52, 57, 52, 66, 58, 48 and 69 points in its eight most recent games against FBS foes.
On the spot
Mark Stoops. Having secured the victory over Florida that UK fans fervently craved, it falls on Stoops to “get his team’s attention” and see that the Wildcats take Murray State seriously. The goal for Kentucky is to play well enough to keep the positive feelings going into the crucial two-game stretch against Mississippi State and South Carolina that follows Murray on the Cats schedule. For motivational fodder vs. Murray State, Stoops can call to the attention of his team that UK has trailed by double digits the past three times it has faced an Ohio Valley Conference team (Eastern Kentucky in 2015; Austin Peay in 2016; EKU last season) and had to rally to win each.
Is beyond giddy. Kentucky’s long-awaited breaking free of the Florida streak should energize a UK fan base that previously seemed to have a tepid investment in the 2018 Wildcats’ football season. UK announced a meager crowd of 49,138 for its season opener against Central Michigan. Will Cats fans turn out in greater numbers this week as a gesture of appreciation to UK football for finally throwing off the yoke of Florida domination?
Mark Story: (859) 231-3230; Twitter: @markcstory