On Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats (3-4) will host the Mississippi St. Bulldogs (3-4) in a game that has potential bowl implications on the line. Neither of these team is where they thought they would be when the season first began. While the Cats may have only been hoping to be at 4-3 based on their schedule, they certainly would have been a lot more competitive as a team. Aside from the disappointing loss to U of L, the other 3 losses have been “no contests” and even their wins (aside from Jacksonville St.) have been ugly and unfulfilling.
For the Bulldogs, they had high expectations entering the season but have completely failed to reach any of them. Their 4 losses are all conference losses, one of their wins was a come from behind victory over a 0-4 UAB team at the time. They have benched starting QB Chris Relf and the offense has been headed downhill faster that a skier on a snowy slope. While both of these teams have been relatively health (the Cats have had injuries at RB) neither has been able to accomplish much on offense lately, although the Bulldogs where pretty good the first two games of the year.
For both of these teams, Saturday’s game is a “must win” simply because there are not many more wins left on either’s schedule….at least not what would be considered a guaranteed win. In fact, it is safe to assume that outside of this game (Bulldogs favorite by +10), that neither will be favorite over anyone remaining on the schedule, outside of Ole Miss, which both teams will play later. Both teams have leaned heavily on their defenses and will continue to do for the rest of the year. Special Teams could be a point of emphasis by both coaches (Joker Phillips & Dan Mullens) because that may be where this game is won or lost.
Of course, the turnover battle will be important as well but isn’t it always; the fact is UK turns it over and doesn’t generate many turnovers to recoup. Mississippi St. creates just as many if not more than they give away, but usually can do nothing to take advantage of these miscues. The loser here will still be winless in conference and more importantly will drop to 3-5 with 4 games to go. The winner can at least say they are only 2 wins away from bowl eligibility and will have a little “head of steam” heading down the stretch.
The UK fans are calling for a “blackout” on Saturday and apparently the team will don their black jerseys for this one. It is the weekend before Halloween so I say “give me the Cats and the points in a mild upset over the Bulldogs”, 17-15.