Mississippi State football is ready for prime time

Mississippi State football (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Mississippi State football (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) /

The Kentucky and Mississippi State football teams may play the biggest football game between the two teams in this century on Saturday. It’s definitely the most intriguing.

When Mississippi State football chose Joe Morehead to lead it’s program, more than a few eyebrows raised.  Moorhead studied English and played football at Fordham.

That’s in Bronx.

He coached at Penn State, Fordham, Connecticut, Akron, Georgetown, and Pittsburg.

Of all the new coaches leading SEC football teams, Moorhead seemed the least likely to fit in, to understand his new state, the community, and the culture.

Well move over Muddy Waters, and get that man a Mississippi Punch.

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Joe Moorhead has taken a very talented team, plugged himself in like he was born with the blues in his blood, and led the Maroons into the SEC West challengers bracket.

Looking across the field at this upstart coach from up North is Kentucky head coach Bob Stoops. Not a newcomer, Stoops has brick by brick built a football program in Lexington poised to take a shot at top Dawg Georgia in the SEC East. Missouri will have something to say about this, as will Auburn in the West, but on this week’s hit chart both teams have a bullet next to them. It will be a barn burning contest, apologies to that other Maroon Bulldog, John Grisham.

Dawgs will prevail

Both teams will run the ball like hungry dogs running through a meat market on Saturday. Both teams boast talented running quarterbacks. Both teams field elite, bruising running backs. Kentucky returns 17 starters from last years team.  Mississippi State fields 18 returning starters.

Two similar teams, but the Dawgs are superior. Mississippi State will win and advance to the SEC West challenger round against Auburn the next week becaue they can stop the run and they have a proven, consistent quarterback.

Mississippi State’s defense ranks fifth nationally in yards per game and 14 nationally in rushing yards per game at 89, allowing 2.9 yards per rush. This after already playing rush first Kansas State. Kentucky ranks 33, allowing 123 yards per game and 3.6 yards per rush.

Mississippi State football advantage

The difference may seem slight at this point in the season, but the Mississippi State advantage is complemented on the other side of the ball where the Bulldogs will attack with Nick Fitzgerald at quarterback. Fitzgerald is rushing at a 7.8 yards per carry clip. He has already run for four touchdowns as well as passed for four touchdowns while sitting out his game one suspension. He has thrown for only one interception.

Kentucky has a talented quarterback, but he’s new, and while he flew high last week, he’s also clipped a few tree tops.

Terry Wilson started last season at Garden City Community College. His debut for Kentucky began with three turnovers against central Michigan.  He did prove himself to be a talented lad last week, rushing for 105 yards and a touchdown and passing for 151 yards and two touchdowns with an interception on the road against the Florida Gators.

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Wilson will ride a wave of Kentucky football enthusiasm as it crests over Kroger field in Lexington, but the bet here is that he hasn’t yet found the consistency needed to beat the Mississippi State defense.