Mississippi State tries to get back in West race vs Kentucky
STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) Mississippi State already has two losses against conference opponents, putting a serious dent in the program's hope of winning a SEC Western Division title.
But coach Dan Mullen says there's still hope if the Bulldogs keep winning.
''I wouldn't be surprised if the winner of the West went undefeated, and I wouldn't be surprised if they had three losses,'' Mullen said. ''With how the division is, I think with the level of play and the teams, everybody is pretty close.''
Mississippi State (5-2, 1-2 SEC) gets a chance to inch up the league standings on Saturday when it hosts Kentucky (4-2, 2-2). The Bulldogs have won six straight games in the series, though most have been close.
Mississippi State has been able to gain some non-conference momentum over the past two weeks, easily beating Troy and Louisiana Tech. Senior quarterback Dak Prescott continues to put up impressive passing numbers - he's thrown for 1,700 yards, 11 touchdowns and zero interceptions this season.
Kentucky is coming off a disappointing 30-27 home loss to Auburn. The Wildcats have already won one league game on the road, knocking off South Carolina.
A win over Mississippi State would make them a legitimate factor in the Eastern Division more than halfway through the year. Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said facing Mississippi State might be his team's biggest challenge all season.
''They are a mature, athletic, physical bunch and that is really the same every year, Stoops said. ''Last year they had a little more experience on the defensive side of the ball, but still the same looking players. Very good looking, very athletic guys.''
Here some things to watch when Mississippi State hosts Kentucky:
ONE-SIDED SERIES OF LATE: Mississippi and Kentucky have historically played an extremely competitive series, with each side winning 21 games. But lately? Not so much. While there have been some close games, the Bulldogs have won six straight and 11 of the past 16.
PRESCOTT KEEPS ROLLING: Mississippi State senior quarterback Dak Prescott has thrown 274 straight passes without an interception, a streak that lasts back to last season's Orange Bowl. It's the longest in Mississippi State history, currently the longest in the country and the third longest in SEC history. Prescott is the only current quarterback in the Football Bowl Subdivision with 6,000 yards passing and 2,000 yards rushing in his career.
TRYING TO ROLL: Mississippi State has won two straight games against Troy and Louisiana Tech since losing to Texas A&M. The Bulldogs now have Saturday's game against Kentucky, a week off and then a road game at Missouri before a showdown against Alabama on Nov. 14. If Mississippi State has a four-game winning streak going into that game, it could have very large implications in the Western Division.
WILDCATS GOING FOR THREE: Kentucky has made some impressive strides so far this season in its seemingly never-ending battle to become relevant in the SEC. The Wildcats have beaten Missouri and South Carolina and come very close to knocking off Florida and Auburn. If Kentucky can beat Mississippi State, it would be the first time the Wildcats have won three SEC games in a season since 2009.
TOWLES VS THE BULLDOGS: Kentucky quarterback Patrick Towles should have some good memories of playing against the Bulldogs. He threw for 390 yards and two touchdowns and also ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns against Mississippi State in last season in a 45-31 loss.
Follow David Brandt on Twitter: www.twitter.com/davidbrandtAP