Position by position: UK vs. Mississippi State

This is a matchup between what might be the two worst quarterback situations in the Southeastern Conference. Will Fidler and Morgan Newton have been just good enough to win against Auburn and Louisiana-Monroe. Mississippi State’s Tyson Lee has been putrid all season, though, throwing three touchdowns and nine picks.
Advantage: UK

Running backs
Anthony Dixon has been one of the most underrated playmakers in the SEC his entire career. He has over 300 more rushing yards than Derrick Locke, who’s been a godsend for the Cats this season. The Bulldog rushing attack isn’t always pretty, but it gets the job done.
Adv: Miss. St.

Wide receivers
Much like the quarterback situation, neither team is scary here. The Cats deploy Randall Cobb all over the field, but there’s no one to help him. This is another toss-up. But since we leaned toward UK for the quarterbacks, we’ll lean toward Mississippi State here.
Adv: Miss. St.

Offensive line
UK’s mostly home-grown offensive line, boasting five Kentucky natives among the top six players, is the reason the offense has found ways to score without an effective passing attack. Mississippi State paves the way on the ground, but UK’s linemen deserve the nod here. They’re the reason for a couple of the Cats’ wins.
Adv: UK

Defensive line
Corey Peters has played like a man possessed since the Alabama game, helping everyone around him. But UK is last in the SEC in rushing defense, and Mississippi State ranks seventh. The numbers don’t lie.
Adv: Miss. St.

Micah Johnson won’t start, but he will play, which is good news for UK. Even when he has been out, Danny Trevathan and Sam Maxwell have performed well enough to win this category for the time being.
Adv: UK

Trevard Lindley is still out, and that will hurt UK. Other players have stepped up, but not enough to replace him. The Bulldogs’ secondary is far from great, but there are enough playmakers to cover whatever UK can trot out at receiver.
Adv: Miss. St.

Special teams
The Cats have won games by reducing penalties and turnovers so far this year. But if UK can’t eliminate negative plays in coverage, along with an up-and-down kicking game, they won’t win this category.
Adv: Miss. St.

Some of UK’s injury questions have been answered, but the Cats can’t be sure until they hit the field. This is a tough one to call. Mississippi State leads in more categories, but UK is competitive in all of them. Both teams need this game. UK gets the nod, but the Cats could be rolled if they’re not ready.
Adv: UK