Check out our best plays in this week’s Fab Five:
The Kentucky Wildcats will be hoping to halt a two-game losing streak when they entertain the Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders at Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Kentucky is coming off consecutive setbacks against Georgia and Tennessee. The Blue Raiders have won four in a row following last week’s defeat of UTEP.
Back to non-conference work
Middle Tennessee senior quarterback Brent Stockstill was named the Conference-USA Offensive Player of the Week after leading his team to a 48-32 win over UTEP this past Saturday. Stockstill turned in another stellar performance to lead the Blue Raiders to their seventh win and continued to put his name in the C-USA history books. The Murfreesboro, Tenn. native completed 31 of 40 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns in the victory, marking the 17th 300-yard game of his illustrious career (a school record and fifth on the C-USA all-time list in that department). Stockstill’s 98 career scoring strikes are the fourth-most in Conference-USA history.
Congratulations to @MT_FB’s Brent Stockstill on being named a Manning Award Star of the Week!
— Conference USA (@ConferenceUSA) November 12, 2018
The Blue Raiders lead the Conference-USA East Division by a half-game and wrap up the regular season with a big one against conference rival UAB on Nov. 24. Middle Tennessee has won four games in a row, all in conference play, since it last lost on Oct. 13 at Florida International, which sits a half-game behind but owns the tiebreaker. Stockstill hopes that an SEC interruption doesn’t halt the Blue Raiders’ conference momentum.
“It kind of breaks up your rhythm a little bit because you play seven straight conference games, then you step out, then you finish up … but I don’t think it really presents anything different,” the head coach said. “We just have to be ready to go, because this is one of the best teams in the country.”
High highs, low lows
Kentucky is 7-3, has been ranked for eight straight weeks, and remains on track for the program’s best season in four decades. The Wildcats were in serious SEC East title contention all the way until Nov. 3. Since then, however, things have suddenly gone downhill. Their 34-17 loss to Georgia handed the division crown to the Bulldogs and the ‘Cats followed that up with a 24-7 setback at Tennessee last weekend. Star running back Benny Snell Jr. admitted that the Volunteers “wanted it more,” while head coach Mark Stoops was left stewing about the roller-coaster ride that has been the 2018 campaign.
“Please tell me another profession where the highs are so high and the lows are so low,” Mark Stoops said on Monday. “That’s the way it is. For us, we always try to handle things the right way. Of course we’re going to celebrate big accomplishments and big wins, individual accomplishments, recognize what kids have done. That’s great, but you really always have to keep things in perspective and I really always try to do that.”
“You always have to get back on track,” Stoops said. “You can’t bring last week into the new week. You have one-week seasons and this is a one-week season for us. We can’t change that past. We can’t change last week, but we can learn from it and try not to make the same mistakes.”
The Kentucky Wildcats are:
- 5-2 ATS in their last seven games against teams with losing records
- 6-1 Under in their last seven overall
- 6-2 Under in their last eight non-conference games
The Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders are:
- 1-5 ATS in their last six games against the SEC
- 1-5 ATS in their last six road games against teams with winning home records
- 15-7-1 Under in their last 23 overall
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
“We haven’t been very good when we’ve been the hunted,” Stoops noted. “We’re a much better football team when we’re the hunter.” Although the Wildcats will be the “hunted” in terms of being the favorites on Saturday, they will be the “hunted” in terms of being plagued by this two-game losing streak. They will be eager to dig out of it, and they should be able to do so in emphatic fashion. Middle Tennessee has already booked a spot in a fourth straight bowl game and this contest obviously has no bearing on C-USA standing, so the urgency could be gone just a bit. MTSU will be more worried about UAB than about Kentucky.
Prediction: Kentucky Wildcats
Full-Game Total Pick
Middle Tennessee features a strong offense, but it hardly ever goes up against a SEC defense. This is a UK team that has limited an incredible six SEC opponents to 16 points or less in regulation. The under is 15-7-1 in the Blue Raiders’ last 23 overall, 6-2-1 in their last nine against winning opponents, 6-2 in their last eight non-conference contests, and 8-2 in their last 10 against the SEC. It is also 6-1 in the Wildcats’ last seven overall, 18-7-1 in their last 26 against winning opponents, 6-2 in their last eight non-conference contests, and 4-0 in their last four following a loss. Look for this one to stay under the total.