WhatIfSports prediction engine nailed it last week. Maybe the computer got lucky predicting this unpredictable Kentucky team. Or maybe it’s finally figuring out that this team has some rough edges, to put it nicely. Whatever the reason, WIS projected a 24-15 Mississippi State victory at Commonwealth Stadium, and the 27-14 Bulldogs win means this is the most accurate simulation WIS has run for the Cats yet. (I don’t know what I’m celebrating?)
The projected 351 yards of total offense for MSU was off by a little more than 50 yards, as the Bulldogs picked up 427, with 269 of those yards coming through the air. Kentucky’s projected total was at 292 yards, yet the Cats fell short by 64 yards, finishing with 228. The inconsistencies in freshmen quarterback Jalen Whitlow is surely difficult to account for. His big-play ability cannot be ignored, however “freshmen mistakes” must also be considered.
Looking to tomorrow’s matchup in Fayetteville, Arkansas, Kentucky gets the easiest opponent they have seen in weeks. This Razorbacks team is reeling under John L. Smith. Unfortunately so are the Cats under Joker Phillips. It’s a battle of nobodies in the SEC: winner takes… second-worst.
The WIS simulations cranked out a 23-16 Arkansas win, but gives the Cats its largest win percentage in a projected loss (31.7%) since the season opener against Louisville (38.1%). According to Vegas, the Razorbacks have moved up to an 18-point favorite.
Check it out, WhatIfSports finally updated the 1998 UK logo to modern times.
Somehow, someway John L. Smith turned this championship-contending team into a loser almost overnight. Before Bobby Petrino was run off, Razorback fans were dreaming of Tyler Wilson and Knile Davis leading the charge to a January bowl game. Now they’re hoping for any bowl game. And probably to not be embarrassed by losing to Kentucky.
The Razorbacks aren’t scoring points, and they’re giving up a lot on defense too. Most recently Rutgers scored 35, and Texas A&M put up 58. Despite all the bad that Arkansas faces, the passing game is still elite. It is led by one of the premier quarterbacks, not only in the Southeastern Conference, but the nation. Tyler Wilson is chucking it; he’s working off a 58% completion rate and closing in on 1,600 yards just halfway through the season. It may not be the gaudy numbers that Geno Smith at West Virginia is posting, but it sure is close.
Wilson is no doubt licking his chops for this matchup against a Kentucky secondary filled with youth. Of the 30 defensive players making the trip to Fayetteville, 23 of them are freshmen and sophomores.
For Kentucky, the one bright spot is Arkansas can’t keep too many teams out of the end zone. Surrendering 35 points per game ranks Arkansas 104th in points against. Not even Kentucky is that bad. Unfortunately the opposite is true for the Cats offense. While the Razorbacks defense wants to give up points, Kentucky doesn’t want to score them as they are only averaging 21 points for, ranking 107th in the country.
What we have here is a defense that can’t stop anyone and an offense that can’t score. It’s like that hypothetical physics question when an unstoppable force meets and immovable object. But they both suck.
At least it’s basketball season now.