For Kentucky on Saturday in Starkville, it was too much Nick Fitzgerald. The Mississippi State quarterback threw for 155 yards and a touchdown and he ran for 115 yards and two more scores in the Bulldogs’ 45-7 victory.
Kentucky (5-2) trailed just 17-7 at the half, but Mississippi State (5-2) dominated the second half. Stephen Johnson was 13 of 28 for 117 yards and 2 interceptions.
Kentucky plays Tennessee at home next Saturday.
Kentucky-Mississippi State recap
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FINAL: Mississippi State 45, Kentucky 7
3:56 4Q: Mississippi State 45, Kentucky 7
There’s not one positive to point to. It’s Kentucky’s worst showing since a 45-7 loss to Florida in Week 2 last season.
10:29 4Q: Mississippi State 38, Kentucky 7
Not sure how this could get worse for Kentucky. Stephen Johnson was just crushed as he threw, and the play ended in a pick six. This one is out of hand.
12:20 4Q: Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 7
It keeps getting worse for Kentucky. The Bulldogs are outscoring the Cats 382-184.
END 3Q: Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 7
Kentucky had two weeks to prepare for this game. It hasn’t showed.
4:16 3Q: Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 7
Nothing positive to report for Kentucky. A lot of positives to report for Mississippi State. This one’s all but over.
7:07 3Q: Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 7
Fitzgerald is putting on a show for Mississippi State. He’s destroying Kentucky’s defense, in every way possible — through the air on 16 of 21 passing and on the ground with 110 rushing yards and two touchdowns.
HALFTIME: Mississippi State 17, Kentucky 7
The Cats tried but failed to score before the half. Kentucky hasn’t played well today, and it might be lucky to be within 10 points. The Bulldogs missed a few big plays, but they’ve controlled the line of scrimmage.
1:05 2Q: Mississippi State 17, Kentucky 7
Nick Fitzgerald just ran 40 yards for a score on 4th and 1. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cats try to score before the half.
3:14 2Q: Mississippi State 10, Kentucky 7
The Wildcats got lucky on that drive. Mississippi State quarterback Nick Fitzgerald missed an easy throw that would’ve been a wide open touchdown. The Bulldogs settled for a 31-yard field goal. Kentucky’s pass defense continues to leak.
7:13 2Q: Kentucky 7, Mississippi State 7
Well, that’s one way to tie the game. Stephen Johnson fumbled just outside of the end zone, but Blake Bone recovered the ball in the end zone for a touchdown. What a weird play. Kentucky’s offense is throwing all kinds of different looks on offense this week.
10:03 2Q: Mississippi State 7, Kentucky 0
Not sure what to make of Kentucky’s start. The Wildcats are being outplayed and have been handled at the line of scrimmage, but the Bulldogs have been held scoreless since their opening drive. Kentucky just hasn’t looked cohesive on offense.
END 1Q: Mississippi State 7, Kentucky 0
The Cats settled down after a dominant opening drive from Mississippi State, but Stephen Johnson is having a hard time through the air. He’s 6 of 12 passing for 44 yards. That might be the most passes Johnson has attempted in a quarter. It looked like Benny Snell might’ve been banged up on Kentucky’s last offensive drive.
6:35 1Q: Mississippi State 7, Kentucky 0
The Cats are in early trouble here in Cowbell City. The offense has to be able to move the ball and keep the defense off the field.
7:43 1Q: Mississippi State 7, Kentucky 0
Wow. What an opening drive for the Bulldogs. Mississippi State steamrolled Kentucky’s defense behind a 5 for 5 start for Nick Fitzgerald. He also rushed three times for 22 yards and a touchdown. Kentucky’s offense might have to put up a ton of points in this one.
Cowbells. Lots of cowbells. pic.twitter.com/UrIiVHInCP
— Joe Mussatto (@joe_mussatto) October 21, 2017
Kentucky-Mississippi State game time, details
Time: 4 p.m. ET
Date: October 21, 2017
Location: Davis Wade Stadium, Starkville, Miss.
Line: Mississippi State -10.5 (according to MyBookie.ag)
Which TV channel is Kentucky-Mississippi State on?
The SEC Network will broadcast the Kentucky-Mississippi football game.
How can I watch Kentucky-Mississippi State online?
The Kentucky-Mississippi State football game can be watched online at WatchESPN or via the WatchESPN app.
How can I listen to Kentucky-Mississippi State on the radio?
The Kentucky-Mississippi State football game will be broadcast on the radio via the UK Sports Network. Find your local radio affiliate here.
The Kentucky-Mississippi State football game will also be broadcast on satellite radio on XM Channel 191 and Sirius Channel 145.
Fans can listen to the Kentucky-Mississippi State football game online at UKathletics.com.
Kentucky-Mississippi State preview, keys to the game
3. Hold Mississippi State’s rushing attack to less than 200 yards.
Mississippi State has one of the best rushing attacks in the nation, averaging 261 yards per game on the ground. But there are obvious trends in their two losses — namely, their rushing offense was slowed, but not stopped, putting the burden on quarterback Nick Fitzgerald and the passing offense. In those two losses, the Bulldogs averaged 175 rushing yards per game. That 200-yard mark seems to be the goal. If Kentucky holds the Bulldogs under 200 yards rushing, the Wildcats should be in good position to win on the road.
2. Free the reins on Stephen Johnson’s right arm.
Another common theme in Mississippi State’s two losses? Both Auburn and Georgia were efficient and ruthless through the air. In those two games, Mississippi State faced 29 pass attempts. Twenty-three of those attempts were completed for 468 yards and 4 touchdowns. That’s 16 yards per attempt! Quarterback Stephen Johnson has been efficient this season, but to beat the Bulldogs, coach Mark Stoops is going to have to allow Johnson to take the top off Mississippi State’s defense. Kentucky shouldn’t go out trying to throw the ball 30 times, but their drop backs should look to go long.
1. Win the turnover battle.
This would just be more of the same for Kentucky this season, as they’re plus 8 in turnover margin in 2017 and have yet to lose that battle in any game. Mississippi State has been careless with the ball of late, turning the ball over 7 times in the last three games. Kentucky has turned the ball over 5 times all season. If the Wildcats can remain stingy with the ball and force Mississippi State into careless mistakes, coupled with the top 2 keys, they should pull off the upset on the road.