No. 16 Kentucky's upset No. 20 Florida last week sent shockwaves through the SEC and college football world. The Wildcats used a stifling defense and an atmosphere that was clearly too raucous for the visiting Gators. Meanwhile, quarterback Will Levis has proven to be more than effective for a team that has plenty of weapons at skill positions around him.
The chance to cause a bigger stir will not be available Saturday, however, because the Wildcats are a favorite over former SEC West power LSU.
The Tigers are coming off of a home loss against Auburn for the first time since 1999 and are in a must-win situation if they hope to stay in the SEC West race. A win on the road in what will be hostile crowd at Kroger Field could be the catalyst for their return to SEC glory.
Let's break down the matchup and make picks straight up and against the spread.
LSU vs. Kentucky: Need to know
LSU has to get the ground game going: The Tigers didn't even bother trying to set the tone on the ground against Auburn, a common theme this season. They rank last in the conference in rushing yards per attempt at 2.58, which puts them at No. 126 nationally. I don't care how dysfunctional the LSU program is ... it should have more than enough talent to at least be functional in the rushing game. That has to change, but can it against a Kentucky team that is as fundamentally sound on the defensive side of the ball as any team in the country?
Levis has to provide balance: The Wildcats gained just 224 total yards against Florida, 87 of which were through the air. The offensive was essentially stuck in neutral, and 15 penalties by the Gators helped them spring the upset. It's on Levis to be effective enough through the air to prevent a talented Tigers defense from stacking up against the run and forcing the Wildcats out of their comfort zone. He doesn't have to throw for 300 yards. He might not even have to break the 200-yard mark. But it is going to be on Levis to make clutch throws to keep the chains moving.
Is Ed Orgeron's seat warming up?: The natives are restless in Baton Rouge as the Tigers haven't been that competitive since taking home the national title following the 2019 season. Does that put Orgeron on the hot seat? We saw Gene Chizik get fired two years after leading Auburn to the national title, so it's a valid question to ask if this LSU season continues to go downhill. The loss to Auburn stung, but it might look more and more acceptable as the season goes on. A loss to Kentucky -- even a really good Kentucky team -- won't sit well with LSU decision-makers. A loss wouldn't be the straw that breaks the camel's back, but it could put Orgeron in a position where he has to win down the stretch in order to prove that he deserves this job.
How to watch LSU vs. Kentucky live
Date: Saturday, Oct. 9 | Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
Location: Kroger Field -- Lexington, Kentucky
TV: SEC Network | Live stream: fuboTV (Try for free)
LSU vs. Kentucky prediction, picks
LSU is a broken program and Kentucky will break some more glass this weekend with a big win in front of the home crowd. The Wildcats passing defense is giving up just 5.5 yards per attempt, and that has been against teams that actually try to run. LSU is one-dimensional by necessity, so it will prevent big pays in the air with ease. That'll be more than enough to earn the Wildcats an easy win and cover. Prediction: Kentucky (-3)
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