Kentucky (1-0, 0-0 SEC)
Commonwealth Stadium, 3:30 p.m. ET
By JUSTIN HOLBROCK
The Ohio Bobcats are on an early season high after last week’s thrilling 17-14 victory over Kent State. Ohio now looks to use that momentum when it meets SEC foe Kentucky Saturday.
The ‘Cats defense will have its work cut out for it as it attempts to stop a Wildcats offense that accumulated 377 yards passing and five rushing touchdowns last week.
Last Week: The Bobcats triumphed dramatically in their season opener at Kent State with a game-winning 44-yard field goal by Josiah Yazdani as time expired.
Kentucky, meanwhile, crushed Tennessee-Martin, 59-14, at home.
This is a statement game for the Bobcats, plain and simple. Beating any team in the SEC is a big deal, but in order to do so, the offensive line must be able to find an answer to current SEC sack-leader Alvin Dupre.
On the offensive side, the OU backfield must hold onto the football. If the ‘Cats have any hope of winning, they need to eliminate preventable turnovers.
This matchup also comes down to Ohio’s defense and it’s ability to stop the Wildcats’ dual threat offense. Last week, the Bobcats stuffed Kent State’s rushing attack but allowed far too many yards through the air.
Against Kentucky, Ohio needs to find an answer to quarterback Patrick Towles. He threw for 377 yards and a touchdown against UT Martin. The defense must also be aware of a Kentucky run game that had 234 yards rushing, 201 of which came from players that had no prior game experience.
“Over the last two years, Kentucky's recruiting classes have been some of the best in the history of the school and among of the top classes in the country these last two years,” Solich said. “They’ve got a good influx of athletes in their program so they’ll be a talented football team and obviously they’re working to make sure that they continue to improve.”
“You know [Mark] Stoops is a second year coach there and he’s building that program like most guys have built their programs,” Solich said. “You don’t wait around and say ‘Well we’re going to build this thing in three or four years and then be good,’ you want to be good right now. We’re facing them certainly at a time when they’re getting very, very confident, so it’ll be a challenge but it’s one we look forward to.”
“I think it is a statement game to say that we can hang with anyone. We believe that every game we can compete with any team out there,” senior wide out Chase Cochran said. “It’s no surprise; they’re an SEC team so they’re big, they’re fast and they’re physical like all SEC teams are, but we’re big, fast and physical too.”
“Kentucky doesn’t care that we beat Kent State, that doesn’t matter to them,” Cochran said. “We were happy about the win Saturday and Sunday but now it’s Kentucky week and it’s kind of time to step up. This is a better opponent. They’re going to be better than Kent State was so you have to up your game a little bit.”
J>> Josiah Yazdani was named MAC East Special Teams Player of the Week for his game-winning 44-yard field goal against the Golden Flashes
>> Quarterback Derrius Vick was named the Athlon Sports MAC Player of the Week for his performance against Kent State, where he completed 18-of-24 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns
>> The ‘Cats have not played a team from the SEC since they faced Tennessee back in 2009. A win would give Ohio its second straight victory over the Wildcats and its first over an SEC opponent since 2004 when it beat Kentucky 28-16 on the road
>> Last week, the Bobcats fumbled on four straight possessions including two by starting tail back Daz’mond Patterson
>> Senior wide receiver Landon Smith caught both touchdown passes against KSU and ended the day with seven receptions for 71 yards
>> Ohio’s defense held the Golden Flashes to a mere 31 yards rushing. However, it did allow Kent State quarterback Colin Reardon to complete 30-of-41 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns
>> The 59 points Kentucky scored against Tennessee-Martin are the most points scored in the team’s season opener since 1998
>> Kentucky’s 45 point rout of the Skyhawks is the school’s largest margin of victory in a game since 2002
>> The defense forced five turnovers while the offense accumulated 656 yards, the fourth-highest yard total in school history
>> Braylon Heard led the Wildcats’ ground game with 116 yards on two carries, both of which were touchdowns
>> Sophomore quarterback Patrick Towles’ 377 yards passing was two yards short of the best career start for a Kentucky quarterback since 1996.
Kentucky is 3-2 overall against the Bobcats
>> Senior defensive end Alvin Dupree currently leads all active SEC players in sacks with a total of 16