A pair of teams coming off tough losses will square off Saturday when Kentucky and visiting Eastern Michigan meet for the first time. The Wildcats missed out on a chance to start 4-0 for the first time since 2008 by squandering a 13-point lead in the final eight minutes against No. 20 Florida while the Eagles gave up the final two touchdowns to fall in double overtime to Ohio.
“We cannot enjoy the wins too long and we cannot dwell on losses,” Kentucky coach Mark Stoops told the media. “There are things that we can all do better, starting with myself.” The Wildcats seemed to be following the blueprint that worked in their first three games, including taking a lead into the fourth quarter, but their usual strong defense didn’t come up with the big stop in falling to the Gators for the 31st straight time. Stoops’ team allowed a pair of Florida receivers to go uncovered, including Freddie Swain on a 5-yard touchdown catch with 43 seconds left. The Eagles of the Mid-American Conference, who earned their first win over a Power 5 Conference team by beating Rutgers 16-13 on Sept. 9, will attempt to defeat an SEC opponent for the first time in 10 attempts.
TV: 4 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Kentucky -14.5
ABOUT EASTERN MICHIGAN (2-1): The Eagles’ struggles in the run game, which has resulted in 2.8 yards per carry, will likely continue against a Kentucky defense that is ranked ninth nationally against the run with 89.3 yards per game allowed. Senior quarterback Brogan Roback has targeted 13 different receivers while throwing for 798 yards, but of his 69 completions, only two have gone for touchdowns. Wide receivers Sergio Bailey II and Antoine Porter have accounted for 31 receptions, 444 yards and both scores.
ABOUT KENTUCKY (3-1): Stephen Johnson continues to make the most of limited opportunities at quarterback as the senior completed 68 percent of his passes for the second time this season and had three touchdown passes for the third time in his career, against Florida. Johnson, who is 10-5 as the quarterback of the Wildcats, also has two touchdown runs on the season, which ranks second on the team to Benny Snell’s three scores. Josh Allen and Denzil Ware have been the main difference-makers on defense for the Wildcats, combining for 25 tackles for loss, 16 sacks and four forced fumbles since the start of last season.
1. The 357 rushing yards allowed by Kentucky are the fewest in its first four games since 2008 (257).
2. Eastern Michigan sophomore DB Brody Hoying is one of three players in the FBS with two forced fumbles and two interceptions.
3. The Wildcats have won 35 of their last 37 games when leading entering the fourth quarter, including 18 of 20 under Stoops.
PREDICTION: Kentucky 34, Eastern Michigan 16