State Ready For First SEC Road Test Saturday At Kentucky
STARKVILLE, Miss. - Seeking their first 5-0 start since 1999, the Mississippi State Bulldogs (4-0, 1-0 SEC) travel to Lexington, Ky., to face the Kentucky Wildcats (1-4, 0-2 SEC) in their first Southeastern Conference road test of the season Saturday.
Saturday's conference tilt will kick off at 11:21 a.m. CST and will be broadcast on the SEC Network. For those unable to get to a television, fans can hear Jim Ellis, Matt Wyatt and John Correro call the action on the Mississippi State Radio Network and via Sirius Radio (Channel 94) or XM Radio (Channel 201). The satellite radio feeds will be the UK Network only.
State will look to open up its running attack against a Kentucky defense that ranks 13th in the conference against the run game and surrendered 200 yards on the ground to South Carolina a week ago. Junior LaDarius Perkins will be the Bulldogs' feature back, leading the team in rushing and placing third in the SEC with 97.25 yard per game.
On defense, All-American Johnthan Banks and Darius Slay, the nation's leader in interceptions, have paced State's defense to a +12 turnover margin, which ranks first in the nation. Banks is tied for sixth nationally in picks, continuing another spectacular season creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks. However, the secondary has not only excelled in creating turnovers, but also disrupting the pass, as the team ranks 15th nationally in pass efficiency.
For the Wildcats, freshmen Jalen Whitlow and Patrick Towles will see time at quarterback for the injured Maxwell Smith. Coach Joker Phillips will look toward his freshmen duo to step up and make the big plays needed to compete with the Bulldogs. Defensively, Kentucky will lean on sophomore linebacker Alvin Dupree, who leads the team and is tied for fifth in the SEC with 6.5 tackles for loss.
The last time these conference foes met, MSU earned its third-straight victory in the series and seventh all-time in Lexington, defeating the Wildcats 28-16 in 2011. Senior quarterback Chris Relf fueled the Bulldogs' attack, running for two scores and throwing for another in the first half. State went to the locker room with a 21-6 lead at the half and did not allow a touchdown from the Wildcats until a 4-yard run from Kentucky's Jonathan George early in the fourth.
The Bulldogs continue their SEC East slate after facing the Wildcats, as they return home to play host to the Tennessee Volunteers. Kickoff for that affair is set for 8 p.m. CT and is scheduled to be broadcast on ESPN2 and through the Mississippi State Radio Network.