Cats Illustrated staff makes Kentucky-Southern Miss predictions

The Cats Illustrated team goes down the line and makes predictions for Saturday's Kentucky-Southern Miss game.

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Winning team, score and why

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Kentucky 27-19. This will be a close game and it also will be an ugly game if there's rain. Both teams were careless with the ball last season so turnovers may play a big role on Saturday. Kentucky's ability to run the football wears out Southern Miss.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: Kentucky 37, SoMiss 26. Last year's game was one of the strangest games I've ever covered. With all due respect to Southern Miss, UK was the better team, but found just about every way possible to lose the game. This time around, the more talented roster triumphs.

Warren Taylor, Staff Writer: Kentucky 33, Southern Miss 24. The Cats aren't going start as hot and finish as cold like last season. An experienced Kentucky offense should methodically move the ball on the Golden Eagles and sustain long drives. The defense struggles early but finds a way to shut down Shannon Dawson's offense late in the game.

Adam Luckett, Guest Contributor: Kentucky 38-16. UK comes out on fire and jumps out to a three touchdown lead in the first half. Stephen Johnson hits on some big plays early before Eddie Gran gets very vanilla as UK runs out the clock in the second half. The defense puts up an impressive showing against a very one-dimensional Southern Miss offense.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: Kentucky 34-21. The Cats start strong and benefit from lackluster Southern Miss quarterback play.

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Kentucky's MVP on Saturday

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Benny Snell. This is the easy answer, but sometimes easy is right. He should have a big day and don't be surprised if he scores all of Kentucky's touchdowns in week one.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: Benny Snell goes for 130 yards and 3 TDs. Nobody is chomping at the bit to play in this game more than the Cats' sophomore running back, who did not get to carry the ball in last year's opener.

Warren Taylor, Staff Writer: Mike Edwards. The coaching staff consistently raves about his versatility and with uncertainty upfront on the defensive line, Edwards will be counted on to help stop USM's run and pass game.

Adam Luckett, Guest Contributor: Adrian Middleton. Kentucky’s goal on defense is going to be to become more aggressive and create more havoc plays. I’m calling for Middleton to be the guy that cashes in as he records a sack and four tackles for loss.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: Stephen Johnson. I haven't been 100-percent sold on Johnson, but I think he's ready to make a big statement against a quality Southern Miss secondary even with some question about who he'll be throwing to.

Key to the game for Kentucky to win

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: As I mentioned, turnovers. The team that wins the turnover battle will likely win the game. UK could maybe afford one more turnover than USM, but if the Cats win the turnover battle than Kentucky may win this one in a blowout.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: The Cats have to do what they've preached all summer: hang on to the ball. Without self-inflicted mistakes, UK should be able to win this one comfortably.

Warren Taylor, Staff Writer: Kentucky's defense needs to stuff the run on first and second down. If they do so, then they will force an inexperienced Southern Miss quarterback to make plays, and if they don't then, they will be on the field for ages likes last season.

Adam Luckett, Guest Contributor: Fast start. Unlike last year, Southern Miss does not have Nick Mullens on their roster so a huge comeback won’t be an option this time. USM’s gameplan is going to be to get a lead early and play keep away from Benny Snell. If that doesn’t happen, an unproven quarterback will have to make plays against a very good UK secondary. You have to love UK’s odds if that happens.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: Johnson's ball security. He can't have an early-game fumble like he did against Georgia Tech, and he has to be careful throwing against some talented, aggressive USM corners.

Bold prediction

T.J. Walker, Basketball Recruiting Analyst: Ito Smith doesn't have a huge game. Southern Miss will make him a priority but the Cats didn't forget last season. UK will force Southern Miss to score and bottle up Smith.

Jeff Drummond, Managing Editor: UK shows off some improved run defense and holds the potent Ito Smith to under 100 yards rushing on the day.

Warren Taylor, Staff Writer: Lynn Bowden will make a highlight reel play and justify the preseason hype.

Adam Luckett, Guest Contributor: Sihiem King scores from 50+ yards out. When you look at the numbers on King, he has recorded some very impressive stats in limited playing time. He has flashed some home run ability and we’ll see that at some point on Saturday. I wouldn’t be surprised if it happened in the pass game.

Justin Rowland, Publisher: Kentucky's defense forces four turnovers. USM will have a new quarterback and Week 1 is often sloppy. The Cats play aggressive and capitalize on the Golden Eagles' mistakes.

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