2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 1 - Kentucky at WKU
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Sept. 1 Kentucky 14 … WKU 3
CFN Analysis: This couldn't have been what Kentucky had in mind to open up the season, and while the WKU defense played extremely well, the UK offense helped the cause in the ugly win. Morgan Newton simply can't take anything off his fastball. All the work done on his touch this offseason didn't seem to pay off, and while he has the gun to push the ball down the field, and he has just enough mobility to get by – including a key late 58-yard to all but put the game away, his 7-of-18, 97-yard, one score, three-pick day was a disaster. On the plus side, the defense didn't allow the Hilltopper offense to move, and Danny Trevathan was brilliant with 13 tackles and Winston Guy made ten stops with two picks, there's a LOT of work to be done against Central Michigan and Louisville to have any prayer of being competitive in SEC play.
WKU had its chances to pull off the whopper of an upset, and it couldn't do it. Andrew Jackson was phenomenal with 12 tackles and a sack, and the defense stuffed the Kentucky offense all game long, but the lack of a passing game proved costly. Bobby Rainey was Bobby Rainey, running for a tough 105 yards on 28 carries, but the yards meant next to nothing because the offense didn't work. Kawaun Jakes is too experienced to be so bad, and the 9-of-27, 93-yard, four pick game was a disaster. To be fair, though, the receivers were never open against the solid UK secondary. Even with the problems, this was a positive performance; WKU went toe-to-toe with an SEC team.
(AP) NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Josh Clemons scored on a 14-yard touchdown run, and Morgan Newton shook off three interceptions in throwing a 31-yard TD pass to La'Rod King in helping the Wildcats beat Western Kentucky 14-3 on Thursday night.
Kentucky had only 75 yards total offense through the first three quarters before Newton drove them 80 yards late in the fourth to put away the victory. The Southeastern Conference team handed Western Kentucky its 16th straight home. The Hilltoppers were the home team in this game played at the home of the NFL's Tennessee Titans.
Winston Guy had an interception that set up Clemons' TD run on a night when the Wildcats struggled with at least six three-and-outs on offense. They struggled to beat a team they routed 63-28 last season with backups getting plenty of playing time.
Kentucky had six starters back, including four on the offensive line, from a team that reached a fifth straight bowl last season. It didn't help as the Wildcats' line got pushed around all night. Kentucky struggled to get its offense going early with Newton settling in at quarterback with the departure of Mike Hartline.
But the Wildcats led 7-3 at halftime despite being outgained 101-35 in total offense and 234-190 for the game.
The Hilltoppers also sacked Newton three times, and the Kentucky quarterback had at least three passes dropped by receivers.
Newton got going just in time, shaking off two interceptions in the fourth quarter, the last with 9:40 left and Kentucky driving. Newton's pass bounced off an official's left arm and Wildcats guard Stuart Hines before going to Western Kentucky defensive end Jared Clendenin.
Facing third-and-14 at the Kentucky 16, Newton ran up the middle for 58 yards in the game's longest play before being dragged down. He then found King wide open for a TD with 4:35 left.
The offenses struggled so much that the punters had the best plays most of the game. Ryan Tydlacka had a 59-yard punt for Kentucky that pinned the Hilltoppers deep, while Hendrix Brakefield had a 58-yarder for Western Kentucky.
Western Kentucky held the ball for 34 minutes, and Bobby Rainey ran for 105 yards, his sixth straight game with at least 100 yards rushing.
But the Hilltoppers scored their only points on a 41-yard field goal by Casey Tinius after Vince Williams picked off Newton in the first quarter. The Hilltoppers had a chance to pad the lead, but Kawaun Jakes repeatedly overthrew receivers, including Jake Doyle in the end zone. Then a low snap led Tinius to push a 34-yard attempt wide right. Guy got his second interception on the final play of the game as Jakes threw into the end zone.
Kentucky (0-0) at Western Kentucky (0-0) Sept
1, 9:15 ESPNU
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Here's The Deal … The 2010 season was an up and down year for Kentucky, and now the chance is there to get off to a huge star with Central Michigan and Louisville to follow and with Jacksonville State and Ole Miss also coming to town. However, last year kicked off with a win over rival Louisville and a 3-0 start before SEC play before losing three straight conference games. Now, the goal for Joker Phillips is to get everything jelled right away to be a real, live, factor in the SEC East race. With one of the most experienced offensive lines in the SEC in front of quarterback of the future - Morgan Newton – the expectations are high and the sky is the limit.
Western Kentucky head coach Willie Taggart is also entering his second year at the helm with a team coming off a 2-10 campaign after showing some big improvement. It didn't reflect on the record, but the foundation is being set. The Hilltoppers are led on offense by running back Bobby Rainey, who was the nation's third-leading rusher and could be the Sun Belt's signature star. Behind Rainey, WKU has a ground attack that will keep them competitive in most conference games but need to show more success in the passing game to keep the offense moving down the field. Better days are ahead for the WKU football program, even if this game doesn't show it.
Why Western Kentucky Might Win: The Hilltoppers are out to earn some respect from their in-state counterparts who have wiped the floor with them in the previous two meetings, allowing 104 points. With the rivalry game coming up against Louisville, UK can't help but be looking forward a bit, and the WKU experience could play a factor. The passing game might be a bit rough, but Kawaun Jakes is a veteran quarterback who should be far better and far more consistent. Even though he'll be keyed on, Rainey should be terrific after lighting up the Cats for 184 yards in last year's battle. On the other side of the ball, Morgan Newton is a quarterback with good upside, but he has to prove he can be steady.
Why Kentucky Might Win: The offensive line should dominate. The UK front five should be able to steamroll over a WKU defensive front seven that's going to have a rough time against any ground attack with a pulse. Eventually, the Hilltoppers should be a strength up front, but it might take a while with so many newcomers. What will be WKU's biggest problem? Behind linebacker, the special teams could be an issue and a shaky passing game will also be a highlighted. On the other side, Danny Trevathan and the terrific linebacking corps should be able to hold down Rainey and keep him from blowing up. The secondary can hit, too.
What To Watch Out For: Newton will be the focus of the Kentucky faithful early on, and if he has a great game, the hype machine will get cranked out. The big quarterback is coming in to his junior season and this is now his team after logging in a little playing time as a true frosh because of injuries elsewhere. He has to be a good conductor for the attack and he has to prove he can spread the ball all over the field. .WKU's 6-5, 246-pound junior Quanterus Smith is returning after starting 11 games and leading the team with four sacks to go along with 47 tackles and 10.5 tackles for loss. He has to get to Newton all game long against the great Wildcat offensive front.
What Will Happen: For Kentucky it is important to get the offense going in the right direction to start the season with so many new faces at the skill positions now expected to become the stars. This first game will show a mix between glimpses of talent and clear inexperience for the offense, and despite a spirited effort from the Hilltoppers, the UK Is still a strong back. UK and WKU have previously met twice on the field with the margin of victory favoring the Wildcats by 35 and 38 points respectively, and this might not be much different with Rainey being held under wraps.
CFN Prediction: Kentucky 41 ... WKU 20
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Kentucky -19.5 O/U: 51.5
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