By KEITH PEEL, Contributing Writer
Webster’s Dictionary defines the word “trap” as “a position or situation from which it is difficult or impossible to escape.” That may be the situation UK Football finds itself in this weekend. Here’s why.
The Kentucky Football team plays the fighting Eagles of Eastern Michigan University on Saturday. The Eagles were a bowl team last year and will be a tougher out than most people would think.
They play in the Mid-American Conference and picked up their first ever win against a Power 5 Conference school by defeating Rutgers 16-13 in week two of the season. This year Eastern Michigan is 2-1 with wins against the aforementioned Rutgers and Charlotte. They lost last week at home to Ohio University 27-20 in overtime.
UK will struggle early in this contest because of the after effects of the emotional loss to Florida last week along with a history of performing poorly against teams that are considered lesser competition – traditionally Group of Five schools like Southern Miss, Western Kentucky and Louisiana-Lafayette.
Eastern Michigan likes to throw the ball around a lot – they rank 40th in passing yards per game. Southern Miss is the only other team so far on UK’s schedule that ranks in the Top 40 for passing yards per game coming in at No. 39. The Eagles do rank near the bottom of the NCAA statistics for offensive rushing yards per game coming in at No.118. Unfortunately UK ranks only 86th in rushing yards per game.
The Eastern Michigan defense gives up a lot of yards on the ground at 157 yards per game for a No. 72nd ranking in all of College Football FBS Division. Both teams are tied in turnover margin at +1.
What this game will come down to is Kentucky getting an effective pass rush on the EMU quarterback to cause him to be uncomfortable in the pocket and for the defensive backs and linebackers to play solid coverage for four quarters.
UK running backs should be able to move the ball against this EMU defensive line but the game will be close going into the fourth quarter.
With that being said – and Kentucky listed as a 14-point favorite – this feels like a trap game and looks like the Wildcats will squeak one out and win by 7 late in the game.