The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 7, 12:00 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Commonwealth Stadium (67,942) -- Lexington, Kentucky. Television: Fox South. Home Record: Miami 0-0, Kentucky 0-0. Away Record: Miami 0-1, Kentucky 0-0. Neutral Record: Miami 0-0, Kentucky 0-1. Conference Record: Miami 0-0, Kentucky 0-0. Series Record: Kentucky leads, 7-4-1.
GAME NOTES: Mark Stoops will try to collect his first win as head coach of Kentucky, as his Wildcats host the Miami-Ohio RedHawks in a non-conference matchup at Commonwealth Stadium.
Don Treadwell's RedHawks are coming off of a 52-14 road loss to Marshall in their season opener. Miami went into halftime tied with the Thundering Herd at 14, but allowed 38 unanswered points in the second half. Marshall more than doubled Miami's total yardage output (591 to 239) and had nearly four times as many first downs (34 to 9).
Kentucky lost to its instate rival Western Kentucky, 35-26, last Saturday at LP Field in Nashville, Tenn. The Wildcats went into halftime trailing by just four points before being outscored 14-0 to start the second half. They scored 10 unanswered points to make the final score closer, but their rally ran out of time.
This will be the 13th meeting in history between these schools in a rivalry that dates back to 1894. The Wildcats are 7-4-1 against Miami in history. The last meeting occurred in 2009 at Paul Brown Stadium.
Miami's offense sputtered against the Thundering Herd due to a lack of success rushing the ball. The RedHawks finished with just 74 yards on 34 attempts for a 2.2 yards per carry average. Austin Gearing and Spencer Treadwell were both ineffective, which put more pressure on quarterback Austin Boucher.
Boucher led Miami to four consecutive wins including victories in the MAC Championship Game and GoDaddy.com bowl in 2010, but was sent back to the bench when the school's all-time leading passer, Zac Dysert, returned healthy for the 2011 season. After being Dysert's backup the past two seasons with limited action, Boucher failed to impress under center versus Marshall, completing just 10-of-22 passes for 165 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Steve Marck, Rokeem Williams and Dawan Scott are the RedHawks top three options in the passing game. Marck led the team in the opener with four receptions, for 41 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Miami struggled against a very talented Thundering Herd offense. It allowed 287 passing yards, 304 rushing yards and six total touchdowns. Despite the team's poor performance, freshman defensive back Jay Mastin made a strong impression in his collegiate debut with a team-high 10 total tackles and an interception. J'Terius Brown also made a splash in his first game of college football with 3.5 tackles for loss and a sack.
Kentucky had the weakest offense in the SEC last season, scoring just 17.9 ppg on 315.0 ypg. The Wildcats surpassed those numbers in their opener this year as they finished their bout versus WKU with 419 yards of total offense. Jalen Whitlow started at quarterback and went 10-of-15 passing for 78 yards and ran for 75 yards and a touchdown. However, Stoops benched him in favor of Maxwell Smith after the Hilltoppers went up 35-17.
Smith completed 8-of-13 attempts for 125 yards and a touchdown. His work off the bench in the opener earned him the starting job for this week's game. He was the starter for the 2012 season before being injured. In three full games and one series of a fourth, Smith completed 68.7 percent of his passes for 975 yards and eight touchdowns.
Junior wideout Demarco Robinson led the Wildcats against WKU with five catches for 69 yards and a touchdown. Kentucky averaged 6.8 yards per carry on its way to 216 rushing yards. Raymond Sanders was the lead back with 98 yards on 14 rushes. The Wildcats will not be as adept at rushing the ball with the pocket passing Smith under center as they were with the dual-threat Whitlow taking snaps.
UK's defense had no answer for its opponent in week one. It gave up 271 yards through the air along with 216 on the ground. The Wildcats were only able to get to WKU's quarterback Brandon Doughty once.
Senior linebacker Avery Williamson anchored the unit with 14 total tackles and also recovered a fumble. Sophomore linebacker Khalid Henderson finished with a career-high 10 total stops. He forced his first career fumble in the first quarter.
The Wildcats' defensive group should be able to hold its ground better at home against a weaker opponent this week. The RedHawks are going to struggle to compete unless they establish some sort of a rushing game. Boucher has shown he can win games as a starter in the past, but Miami will really struggle keeping pace with Kentucky.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Kentucky 38, Miami-Ohio 20
09/04 10:38:06 ET