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Mississippi State football vs. Kentucky: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Bulldogs battle Wildcats

Running back Kylin Hill #8 of the Mississippi State Bulldogs celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter of their game against the Louisiana-Lafayette Ragin Cajuns at Mercedes Benz Superdome on August 31, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)

STARKVILLE, Miss. – Mississippi State squandered a chance to add a signature non-conference win to its resume last week and will have to prove itself again by performing well in the SEC. The Bulldogs hope to have their starting quarterback available when they host Kentucky to kick off their SEC slate on Saturday.

TV: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Mississippi State -6.

Mississippi State and quarterback Tommy Stevens looked strong in wins over Louisiana and Southern Miss to begin the season, but Stevens went down with a shoulder injury late in Week 2 and was knocked out with the same injury in last week's 31-24 home loss to Kansas State. "It was way better yesterday, today, and heading into tomorrow than it was at this point last week," Bulldogs coach Joe Moorhead told reporters of Stevens during his Tuesday press conference. "... I think that he has earned that right as a fifth-year guy that if he is healthy enough to play that we give him the start. It is also kind of where is the line of demarcation where the practice reps, preparation, and the continuity matter the most on Saturday during the week." The Wildcats began SEC play last weekend against Florida and squandered an 11-point lead in the fourth quarter while falling at home to Florida 29-21. "We'll have a different challenge this week going on the road," Kentucky coach Mark Stoops told reporters. "First time to take this team on the road and go down to Mississippi State for another great challenge. There's not a whole heck of a lot of time to feel sorry for yourself. You got to pick yourself back up, get back at it, get ready for your next opponent."

ABOUT KENTUCKY (2-1, 0-1 SEC)

Wildcats quarterback Sawyer Smith threw three interceptions and lost a fumble in the loss to Florida and was particularly shaky in the second half. "Obviously, the ball security with Sawyer is a big deal," Stoops told reporters. "He's got to protect the ball, early on putting the ball down, that led to the score. He can't do that. The interceptions, the one when we're in the red zone, was a critical mistake, as well. It's a big swing right there. We're going in, they get it all the way down in the red zone. It was a big, big one." Stoops has more stability in the running game, with Kavosiey Smoke (251 yards, two TDs) and Asim Rose (192 yards, 2 TDs) leading the way.

ABOUT MISSISSIPPI STATE (2-1, 0-0)

If Stevens is unable to make the start on Saturday the Bulldogs will turn to freshman Garrett Shrader, who made highlights with an acrobatic scramble that left him a yard short of a key first down last week. "The thing I like about him since I first started recruiting him until now was that the guy is a competitor," Moorhead told reporters of Shrader. "It means something to him. In terms of that, he doesn't need the team to rally around him because they believe in him already. When his teammates see a guy, who is willing to put his body on the line and do something like that to try to win a game, it continues to build the respect that they already had for him." Shrader offers a bit more in the running game than Stevens and rushed for 82 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries last week.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Kentucky DL T.J. Carter will miss the first half after being flagged for targeting last week.

2. Bulldogs RB Kylin Hill leads the SEC with 431 yards rushing.

3. The Wildcats earned a 28-7 home win over the Bulldogs last season, evening the series at 23 wins apiece.

PREDICTION: Mississippi State 24, Kentucky 21

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