By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky is not only looking for a 4-0 start when it hosts Mississippi State Saturday night, but the Cats are also trying to beat Mississippi State for just the second time in the last 10 meetings.
Five of those eight Mississippi State wins going into Saturday night have been by double digits, including last year’s 45-7 victory in Starkville.
However, one possible plus for Kentucky is that none of those previous nine games came in September. State and UK have played just twice in the month of September and the last one came in 1997. That means this could be the freshest, deepest team UK has had to go against the normally physically Bulldogs in years.
Mississippi State coach Joe Moorhead, an assistant at Penn State last year, said the 2017 UK-Mississippi State score means nothing this week.
“Last week’s game’s not going to have any bearing on the outcome of this one, nor is last year’s game against them. Every year is a new team, and they’re playing with a ton of confidence. Rightfully so, they’ve done a great job in all three phases. The kids are wired in,” Moorhead said.
Kentucky’s defense has caught Moorhead’s attention.
“They are big, strong and physical up front. They have two great linebackers (Kash Daniel and Jordan Jones) on the inside that can run and make plays. They do a great job avoiding blocks and have a lot of size, length and athleticism on the back end,” the Mississippi State coach said.
He calls outside linebacker Josh Allen Kentucky’s “best guy” and one to watch.
“He’s real athletic, long and physical guy. He’s a guy that we have to be certainly aware of. It doesn’t change the plays necessarily, but changes some of the blocking rules and some of the angles,” Moorhead said.
“When you talk about the run game, where can you find your best numbers? Where are the angles for the linemen to block them most effectively? Where can you get your guys into open space and grass? More than anything, it changes the angles more than the numbers.”