Two very different offenses will meet on Saturday in Kentucky, as the Mississippi State Bulldogs travel to Kentucky for a clash with the Wildcats. It’s been two very different outcomes for Mike Leach as the Mississippi State head coach thus far. The Leach era started with a win of 44-34 in
SEC Week 1 against the defending national champions. LSU is down a lot of talent, but it still wasn’t expected with the Tigers as a 14-point favorite.
Mississippi State throttled the LSU defense for 44 points behind an impressive performance by former Stanford Cardinal, K.J. Costello. Costello passed for 623 yards with 5 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. Osirus Mitchell went crazy for 183 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns. Costello worked the ball around, and three different receivers eclipsed 100+ yards for the Bulldogs.
It looked like a different team on the field versus Arkansas the following week. Costello turned the ball over often, as he was forced into 3 interceptions with just 1 touchdown pass. Osirus Mitchell led the Bulldogs in receiving again, so Costello has been able to find his favorite receiver quickly in the Mississippi State offense. Costello is a transfer quarterback from Stanford, who had some success in California.
The offense that Costello worked with at Stanford is much different than what Leach is making him do. There’s no way that Costello would attempt 60 passes as a Cardinal, though that’s what Leach asked of him against LSU. The air raid is the polar opposite of the ground and pound offense that Stanford likes to employ. With that in mind, it was incredibly impressive to see what Costello did out of the gate in his first game as a Bulldog.
Growing pains were evident against Arkansas last week. I think some of that has to be due to a letdown spot after knocking off LSU. They were hyped in the locker room following that game. It looked like a championship celebration. How much really went into preparing for Arkansas? Probably not enough focus going into the Razorbacks was the problem. That game should serve as an early wake up call for the Bulldogs.
Kentucky needs a win on Saturday to avoid a 0-3 start to the season. It’s been a disappointment for them so far. Their defense couldn’t hold at home versus Ole Miss in an entertaining 42-41 shootout. In Week 1, they opened the season with a hard-fought 29-13 loss versus the Auburn Tigers. While Mississippi State is going to want to go fast through the air, Kentucky will prefer to keep the ball on the ground and grind things out. Head below for our free Mississippi State vs. Kentucky pick for October 10, 2020.
Mississippi State Bulldogs vs. Kentucky Wildcats NCAAF Betting Odds:
Mississippi State vs. Kentucky Prediction:
The Wildcats’ defense will see a similar offense this week than last week against the Ole Miss Rebels. Ole Miss utilizes the ground more, but both go up-tempo and want to run as many plays as possible. Leach was one of the first college coaches to use such a system.
Arkansas had no issues extinguishing the hungover Bulldogs last week, though Kentucky had a lot of problems against the fast attack of Ole Miss. The Rebels scored 42 points on the Wildcats and made it look easy. It felt like every time Ole Miss had the ball they were going to score.
That didn’t quite happen, but the offense was zinging. Matt Corral passed for 320 yards and 4 touchdowns. He didn’t miss many throws, as Corral completed 24 on 29 attempts. Running the ball wasn’t a problem for him either. Corral ran for 51 yards on 13 carries for an effective day at the office on Saturday.
Having to deal with that offensive onslaught, and now slowing down Leach’s offense in back-to-back weeks should be a problem. You have to believe that Ole Miss took something out of their defense in that game and need more than a week to prepare for yet another fast offense early in the season.
Kentucky were able to keep pace with Ole Miss last week because of a terrible Rebels’ defense. The Rebels have one of the worst defensive units in the FBS and Kentucky made sure they were going to exploit it. I was on the OVER in that game, so everything worked out well from my perspective.
Chris Rodriguez and quarterback Terry Wilson Jr. had a field day on the ground. Rodriguez rushed for 133 yards with 2 touchdowns, while Wilson Jr. chipped in with 129 yards and 3 scores with his legs. Wilson Jr. is not much of a passer, but can do damage running the football. Take away the running game like Auburn did and Mississippi State will be in good shape.
The Bulldogs are much better at stopping the run than Ole Miss are. LSU managed just 80 yards rushing against Mississippi State in Week 1, and then Arkansas gained 78 yards on the ground.
The easy yardage that the Wildcats found last week probably isn’t going to be there for them in this one.
Wilson Jr. is going to have to make some plays with his arms, and I’m not so sure I have confidence in him doing that consistently. After a big letdown spot last week, look for Mississippi State to use that as an early wake up call and play a much better game on Saturday in Lexington.