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How and what to watch for Mississippi State at Kentucky

Can Mississippi State bounce back in Week 3 against a winless Kentucky team?

K.J. Costello of the Mississippi State Bulldogs throws the ball against the Arkansas Razorbacks during the first half at Davis Wade Stadium on October 03, 2020 in Starkville, Mississippi. Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

For the second week in a row, the Kentucky Wildcats are slated to face a cross-divisional, in-conference team from Mississippi. After losing by one point in overtime to Ole Miss last Saturday, it will look to rebound against head coach Mike Leach and the Mississippi State Bulldogs.

The Wildcats enter the weekend at 0-2, with losses to the Rebels and the Auburn Tigers. Quarterback Terry Wilson is the team’s leading rusher with 171 yards and a team-high three touchdowns on 35 attempts and has completed 38 of his 55 pass attempts for 390 yards and a score. The offense runs through Wilson, with the emphasis on run. For Kentucky to win, it will need to keep the ground game rolling against a Mississippi State defense that has allowed only 143 total rushing yards on the season.

The Bulldogs’ new-look offense has only turned to the run game on 25 percent of their offensive snaps. Leach is 1-1 in his first season at the helm after his team upset an overhyped LSU team in front of an unusually quiet Tiger Stadium to open the year, and followed it up by dropping an embarrassing loss to Arkansas. While its opponents intend to keep the ball on the ground, it is no secret that Mississippi State and former Stanford quarterback K.J. Costello are going to look to the air. The Bulldogs threw for an astonishing 623 yards to open the year, but struggled to overcome three interceptions and just 313 passing yards in Week 2. The matchup bodes well for the deep ball, as Kentucky’s defense allowed Ole Miss to throw for 320 yards without an interception last week.

Game Time/TV Channel/Streaming

You can watch this game Saturday, October 10th at 7:30 ET on the SEC Network, or you can stream it via the ESPN app.

Point Spread, Totals, Odds, Trends

Point spread: Mississippi State (+1.5) vs. Kentucky
Point Total: O/U 57.5 (-110)
Money line: Mississippi State (+108), Kentucky (-130)

  • Mississippi State is 1-1 against the spread and 1-1 on Over/Unders
  • Kentucky is 0-2 against the spread and 1-1 on Over/Unders
  • Mississippi State is 9-4 against the spread in its last 13 games against Kentucky
  • The total has gone Over in five of Kentucky’s last six games

The Best Bet

For the Bulldogs to open the season with a dominant victory over the reigning national champions and then lose to the basement-dwelling Hogs is very Leach. The up-and-down nature of his coaching career is nothing new, but it can make it hard to gage how talented his team really is. In this case, his defense has proven it can stop the run (Kentucky’s MO) and his offense racks up the passing yards (Kentucky’s kryptonite), which sets Mississippi State up for success. If the spread were larger, playing it safe and taking the points would make sense for what should be a back-and-forth game. However, at only +1.5, it makes sense to ride the Bulldogs moneyline for a game that they should win outright.

Pick: Mississippi State +108

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