Mark Story

Blue Preview: Your guide to Kentucky’s football game vs. Arkansas

Arkansas at Kentucky

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 12)

Where: Kroger Field (capacity 61,000)

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play, Tom Hart; analysis, Jordan Rodgers; sideline, Cole Cubelic)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 137, Internet Channel 961

Records: Kentucky (2-3, 0-3 SEC); Arkansas (2-3, 0-2 SEC)

Series history: Kentucky leads 4-3.

Last meeting: Arkansas beat Kentucky 49-7 on Oct. 13, 2012, in a game called with 5:08 left in the third quarter due to severe weather.

Line: Kentucky is favored by 6.5 points.

The story line

Kentucky is riding a three-game losing streak, and what had seemed a promising Wildcats season now feels as if it is teetering on the brink. The Wildcats will seek to “get well” against an Arkansas program that has lost 13 SEC games in a row and has yet to win a league contest under second-year head coach Chad Morris (0-10 vs. SEC teams).

The big threat

Rakeem Boyd. A 6-foot, 213-pound junior, the Arkansas running back (483 rushing yards, 5.3 yards a carry) has been the rock for the Razorbacks’ offense in 2019. The Houston product must be salivating at a chance to go against a Kentucky run defense that has allowed its past two opponents not one, but two 100-plus yards rushers each.

Rakeem Boyd.JPG
Arkansas running back Rakeem Boyd has rushed for 483 yards and three touchdowns this season. Michael Woods AP

On the spot

Whoever starts at quarterback for Kentucky. Battling multiple injuries, Sawyer Smith’s past two starts since taking over for the sidelined Terry Wilson have been subpar (combined 26 of 73 passing). Coming off an open week, is Smith healthy enough to again be productive? Does Kentucky instead try to steal the game with wide receiver Lynn Bowden going at quarterback? Will ex-Lafayette High School star Walker Wood ever get a chance? Whoever gets the call, UK needs substantially better QB play than it has had in its prior two games.

The mood

Has gone from excited (week of Florida game) to dejected (Mississippi State aftermath) and is now closing in on “checked out” (post-South Carolina). A win over a struggling Arkansas program might not restore football fever among UK fans but a loss would be disastrous.

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Mark Story has worked in the Lexington Herald-Leader sports department since Aug. 27, 1990, and has been a Herald-Leader sports columnist since 2001. I have covered every Kentucky-Louisville football game since 1994, every UK-U of L basketball game but three since 1996-97 and every Kentucky Derby since 1994.
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