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Unscientific Preview: Kentucky vs. Mississippi State

vs.

Kentucky @ Mississippi State
Game Time: 2:30
Location: Starkville, MS
TV: ESPN Gameplan

The SEC. Impressive in nearly every aspect of the game of football. Speed. Power. Talent. It’s the kind of teams and games where people across the country, nay… the globe, stand up and take notice in a collective jaw dropping “Wow”. It’s the definition of good football. Oh look… there’s Florida winning another national championship. Hey… isn’t that Les Miles putting on another gleaming white championship hat? Wait a second… I think Phil Fulmer just stole my lunch. Any way you slice it the SEC is full of teams, players, and coaches that are the pinnacle of pigskin.

Then you have Kentucky and Mississippi State locking up this weekend. Color me unexcited. Cripple Fight 2008!!! Engage…
In case you missed it last week, and I hope to God you did, Kentucky took an unmerciless asspounding at the hands of Florida. At the same time, Mississippi State got the win against Middle Tennessee State… yes… that Middle Tennessee State who came within one yard of beating the Wildcats. Kentucky checks in at 5-3 with a lone SEC victory against Arkansas, Mississippi State at 3-5 with a lone SEC victory against Vanderbilt. Neither of these teams are very good, and this game could, and should, come down to which team sucks the least.

Offense: To call Kentucky offensively challenged would be an understatement. Challenged isn’t the word I would use. A myriad of words come to mind, most beginning with shi and ending with tty. Here’s the good news… the Kentucky offense will be very different come Saturday. The offensive line is finally healthy and all starters return for the first time since the Western Kentucky game and Rich Brooks has announced that Randall Cobb will be the starting QB. The bad news is the running game is still decimated by injuries, the wide receivers still can’t hang onto the ball, and oh by the way, Mike Hartline made some waves this week by tossing his offense under the bus and blaming them for poor production rather than his lack of talent. Fabulous!

For MSU, the 9th ranked team in the SEC for total offense, they’re balanced on rushing and passing, and not exceptional at either. Junior QB Tyson Lee averages just a smidgen over 120 ypg passing and RB Anthony Dixon is 5th in conference at around 74 ypg on the ground but did ring up 126 and 3 scores on MTSU last week. The similarities in their ineptitude are eery.
Advantage: Push

Defense: For MSU, they rank 7th in the conference in total defense, are 2nd against the pass and 11th against the rush. Despite their impressive stats, the Bulldogs are beatable through the air though, as evidenced by MTSU’s 268 yards last week. Giving up 144 on the ground per game is atrocious, but the Bulldogs have decreased that average to 127 against SEC opponents. The MSU D is giving up 22 points per game, good for 9th best in the conference. Pacing the Bulldogs are linebackers KJ Wright and Dominic Douglas.

When MSU has the ball, they’ll face a Kentucky defense coming off a bloodletting to the tune of 63 points in The Swamp. That’s worse than it looks considering the Florida offense often worked with extremely short fields and the piss poor special teams play gave Florida 14 points giftwrapped inside the 5 twice in the first quarter. This is a Kentucky defense capable of great play, and having Micah Johnson, Myron Pryor, and Marcus McClinton back will make a tremendous difference… talent-wise and emotionally.
Advantage:

Coaching: On one hand you have Rich Brooks. Stodgy. Old school. Perpetually pissed off. On the other, it’s Sylvester Croom. The man who has wrecked more coaching careers than blue label Johnny Walker. Plus, he is a dead ringer for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas. Pubic hair and soda can not included.
Advantage: Sheer x’s and o’s as well as recent results give Brooks the edge.

Celebrity Fan:
Kentucky:

Ashley Judd

Mississippi State:

John Grisham
Advantage: I love books. But I really love boobs.

Overall: Kentucky is coming off an emotional couple weeks. A thrilling win against Arkansas, and an implosion against Florida. MSU is simply MSU. The Croomster and company lose games they should win and win games they shouldn’t, sending Vanderbilt from Gameday to 3 consecutive losses. This game comes down to special teams play and turnovers. Neither team moves the ball exceptionally well, and it is one of the classic Who-Screws-Up-The-Least-Gets-The-Win sort of affairs. It’s a road game, which gives me pause, but the Cats D, finally healthy holds down MSU.

Prediciton:
Kentucky 21
MSU 17

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