Kent State (1-0) at Kentucky (0-1) (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,606) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: CSS. Home Record: Kent St. 1-0, Kentucky 0-0. Away Record: Kent St. 0-0, Kentucky 0-1. Neutral Record: Kent St. 0-0, Kentucky 0-0. Conference Record: Kent St. 0-0, Kentucky 0-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 6-0.
GAME NOTES: After losing state-wide bragging rights in their season opener, the Kentucky Wildcats will try to find the win column for the first time in 2012 when they play host to the Kent State Golden Flashes this Saturday night.
Kent State put together a strong all-around effort in its first game, taking down FCS foe Towson in convincing fashion, 41-21. The performance was a great sign for the Golden Flashes, who opened the 2011 season with three straight defeats, and losses in six of their first seven games overall.
The start of the season was not as kind to the Wildcats. Facing off against 25th-ranked Louisville, UK fell by a score of 32-14. Although it stills hold a 6-4 advantage in the all-time series against its intrastate rival, Kentucky has now lost to Louisville in consecutive seasons.
Kentucky has defeated Kent State in all six previous matchups between the two, and the 'Cats posted a 56-20 win over the Golden Flashes back in 2007.
Because Kent State played so well on defense and special teams in its opener, the offense did not need to do all that much. The unit tallied just 267 total yards.
Spencer Keith started the game at quarterback and put up modest numbers, completing 10-of-19 passes for 82 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, although he did run in a five-yard score in the first quarter to give the Flashes a 7-0 lead. David Fisher relieved Keith late and completed a 63-yard touchdown pass to Josh Boyle.
Dri Archer was explosive in multiple facets of the game. He carried the ball eight times for 54 yards and two touchdowns -- one from 15 yards and the other from 18. Archer also returned a 98-yard kickoff for a score late in the first half, marking the second-longest return in program history and the school's first since 2010.
Boyle had just three catches on the night, but was able to tally 95 yards. In total, nine Kent State receivers caught a pass.
The defensive unit causes havoc on the Towson offensive attack, forcing six turnovers -- the most Kent State has recorded in a game since 2008.
Luke Wollett and Norman Wolfe each made an interception. The two now have a combined 16 picks in their careers.
Wollett also led the team in tackles with eight. Roosevelt Nix had seven tackles (four for loss) and a sack, one of four for the unit in the game.
Kentucky had to spend most of its game against Louisville playing catch-up, which helped result in some inflated offense numbers, though there were some positives to take from the game.
Maxwell Smith looked impressive under center, though he was given ample opportunities to throw the ball (35-of-50). He finished with 280 yards and two touchdowns, the first of which went to Tyler Robinson early in the second quarter to pull the Wildcats to within one point of the lead.
As he was last season, La'Rod Kind continued to be the No. 1 receiving option for UK, catching eight balls for 77 yards and a score. The senior is looking to improve upon his career-highs set last season (40 rec, 598 yds, seven TDs) and he's off to a good start. Daryl Collins (seven rec, 64 yds) was also effective in the receiving game.
The Wildcats had no answer for the fast Louisville offense, surrendering 466 yards of total offense, including 219 yards and four touchdowns on the ground.
Linebacker Avery Williamson recorded a career-high 12 tackles and forced a fumble. Collins Ukwu, Mister Cobble and Mike Douglas each had a sack, which was a good sign for a team that only recorded 20 a season ago.
Kent State's offense wasn't tested against Towson, and it will certainly need to come out of the gates strong in this game and prove it's sharp. Regardless of the quality of its opponent, Kentucky cannot be pleased with its defensive effort at Louisville, but it'll be happy to handle a less formidable team this week. The Golden Flashes used big plays on defense and special teams to win their opener, but it's hard to count on that every week. Figure the Wildcats to earn their first win of the season in front of the home crowd.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 31, Kent State 21Game Date and Time
Saturday, September 8, 7:30 p.m. (et)