Blue Preview: Your one-click guide to No. 12 Kentucky’s SEC game at Mississippi State

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No. 12 Kentucky at Mississippi State

When: 7 p.m. Saturday.

Where: Davis Wade Stadium (capacity 61,337) in Starkville, Miss.

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play, Tom Hart; analysis, Jordan Rodgers; sideline, Cole Cubelic).

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1.

Satellite Radio: XM Channel 190, Sirius Channel 113, Internet Channel 961.

Records: Kentucky (6-1, 4-1 SEC); Mississippi State (4-3, 2-2 SEC)

Series history: Is tied. Kentucky and Mississippi State have played 48 games with each team winning 24 times.

Last meeting: Kentucky intercepted six passes and beat Mississippi State 24-2 on Oct. 10, 2020, at Kroger Field.

Line: Kentucky is favored by 1 point.

The story line

Back after an open date, Kentucky begins the stretch drive of what has so far been a stellar season seeking to record a victory in what has been one of the toughest venues for the Wildcats in the Mark Stoops coaching era. Under Stoops, UK is 0-4 against Mississippi State in Starkville. Can the Cats finally break through at MSU?

The number to watch

Kentucky’s interception total. In holding a Mike Leach offense without a touchdown in a game for the first time ever, UK intercepted six passes last year. That is twice as many picks in that one game as the Wildcats have recorded in their first seven games in 2021. When a team throws the ball as often as Leach does in his version of the Air Raid, you have to make it pay with some takeaways.

The big threat

Will Rogers. The Mississippi State quarterback has never met a pass he didn’t like. The 6-foot-2, 210-pound product of Brandon, Miss., has completed 292 of 397 passes for 2,546 yards with 18 touchdowns vs. seven interceptions. However, five of those picks have been thrown in the past two games. Last year vs. UK, Rogers relieved an ineffective K.J. Costello and was responsible for the last two of the six interceptions that MSU threw in Lexington.

On the spot

Mark Stoops. Kentucky is not only 0-4 at Mississippi State under Stoops but it has been outscored 143-58. Under Stoops, UK is 1-2 vs. MSU in games immediately after open dates and the last time the Cats faced MSU after a week off, Kentucky was obliterated 45-7 in 2017. Can Stoops find the right formula to solve “the Starkville hex?”

The mood

Is hopeful but apprehensive. Stoops and troops have put themselves into position to have a “special season.” UK backers want to believe Kentucky can keep the good times rolling by figuring out a way to beat Mississippi State in Starkville for the first time since 2008.

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