|GAME TIME||4:30 pm EST.|
Northwestern Wildcats Key Player
Justin Jackson, the senior running back from Illinois is the guy to watch out for from the Wildcats. He’s rushed for over 1,100 yards this season to go with 9 touchdowns. Justin has break away speed and he’s not afraid to run you over if you get in his way. Kentucky has to make Jackson a focus in the defensive game plan.
Kentucky Wildcats Key Player
Benny Snell will need to have a big game for Kentucky to pull off the upset. He’s been the most reliable back in the SEC this season, rushing for 1,318 yards and 18 touchdowns. Benny has the ability to control a game if he’s used right. The coaching staff will need to make sure they give him the rest he needs during the game so that he can be effective throughout.
GAME PREVIEW AND ANALYSIS
This game means a lot for the Kentucky Football program. Just because the Cats are 7-5 doesn’t mean fans or people within the program should be satisfied. After losing last years bowl game to Georgia Tech, the Cats have no choice but to play well against Northwestern this year.
Kentucky is also coming off two very bad losses to end the year. The showing against Louisville was both horrendous and humiliating. In order to get everyone behind this team again, they have to remain competitive in this game.
Here are the three keys to victory for Kentucky:
- Get Benny Snell the ball early and often. Benny has easily been the best player on the team this year, and he’s arguably the best running back in the SEC. In order for Kentucky to even have a chance in this game, they’re going to need to get Benny the ball. If they can do that, they’ll be able to control the tempo throughout, limiting opportunities for the experienced Northwestern offense.
- The Defensive line has to win the battles in the trenches. Northwestern averages over 21 rushes per game, which means we’ll be seeing a lot of battles up front. This Kentucky defensive line has improved tremendously over the past year, but in order to win, they’re going to have to win those battles. Justin Jackson is a fast and physical back, so getting as many hands/bodies on him as possible will force NW to play in the air.
- Stephen Johnson has to play better. These past few games have been rough, mainly due to Stephens play, or lack there of. He hasn’t been 100%, but there’s no denying that his play hasn’t helped Kentucky at all. If anything, he’s part of the reason they’ve looked so bad. If the Cats are going to win this game, they’ll need their leader to step up and lead the team. It’s never been about the numbers with Stephen, it’s always been about his will to win, and the team needs that desperately.
As far as a prediction goes, I think Kentucky wins this game with a score of 27-21.
The Cats haven’t faced a team like this all year. The only team similar to Northwestern would be Mississippi State, and we all know what happened in that game.
With that being said, Kentucky will be competitive throughout the game. They’ll make sure they give everyone a heart attack before they put together their game-winning drive with 5 min left.