Trash talking is an art that most cannot seem to specialize in, while on the other hand it can easily backfire when facing an opponent that is more talented and more physical than you. That trash talk has gone from Kentucky RB Benny Snell Jr to Mississippi State RB Kylin Hill to Kentucky OL Drake Jackson all the way to the fan bases of the two teams.
A game that on paper, before the season, wasn’t really circled on the calendar for Mississippi State has seemingly become more important and it will be interesting to see how Coach Joe Moorhead’s ball club reacts to the trash talking from Kentucky on Saturday.
In order for State’s season to live up to the lofty expectations from fans and even the players, they will need to take care of the Wildcats in Lexington on Saturday night.
Player to Watch for Kentucky: While Kentucky’s RB Benny Snell is getting all the press this week with his words off the field, his performance on the field will be very key to the outcome of the game for both teams but he isn’t the player Mississippi State fans should be worried about. Quarterback Terry Wilson can make plays with his legs and his arm, the main concern for State fans should be whether the Bulldog defense can set the edge and stop Wilson from getting to the perimeter and breaking a huge run. While QBs are generally known for their arm, Terry Wilson has yet to showcase his arm. He has thrown for 392 yards in 3 games, along with 2 TD passes and 3 interceptions. Stopping the run and forcing Wilson to throw the ball will be key Saturday night.
Player to Watch for Mississippi State: Last week we made Nick Fitzgerald the player to watch, well let’s take a double dip and add him again. As with Benny Snell, Kylin Hill has generated talk off the field but his counterpart in the backfield is going to be the key for a Bulldog win. If Mississippi State wants to get to where they want to be this season, Fitzgerald will be the main contributor for them to see the success they want to see. Coming off a game where questions surrounded whether he could effectively throw the deep ball, the main question now is can he do it consistently and do it on the road in a big conference game. Attention for Kentucky’s defense will be focused on Kylin Hill, Aeris Williams, and the State running attack which makes this that much more important for Fitzgerald to be able to effectively throw the ball and do so on third down and long.
Match-up to Watch: The defensive line for Mississippi State continues to get all the attention from NFL scouts and opposing offenses, but the linebackers of the Bulldogs setting the edge and containing Terry Wilson will be the key for a Bulldog victory. Leo Lewis, Willie Gay, Errol Thompson, Gerri Green, etc. will need to have their best game of the season to this point to keep Kentucky off the board, and to continue to give the Bulldog offense more and more opportunities to put points on the board.
Prediction: While this game is projected to be Mississippi State’s closest of the young season, it’s really hard to see any team that can’t effectively throw the football put any points on the board at a high rate against a defense that shuts down the run. The Bulldogs opened as a 10.5 point favorite this week in Lexington, the line has dropped down to -9 since it opened. Straight up, this feels like a game where the Bulldogs come out and make a statement. All the trash talk from Kentucky will come back and bite the Wildcats on Saturday night, Mississippi State wins 52-13.