Just two weeks after Mississippi Sate coach Mike Leach burst onto the SEC scene in record-breaking fashion in a win over defending national champion LSU, Leach's pirate ship hit an iceberg on Saturday in a 24-2 loss at Kentucky. Mississippi State's two points were the fewest ever scored by one of Leach's teams in his 19 years as a coach.
Leach's first team at Washington State in 2012 was held to single-digits four times but always mustered at least six points. His first team at Texas Tech in 2000 scored three points in its lowest output during a loss to No. 1 Nebraska.
Things got so dire for the Bulldogs in the second half that Leach benched Stanford graduate transfer quarterback K.J. Costello, the hero of the of the LSU victory, in favor of true freshman Will Rogers. Neither found any success against the Wildcats, however, as Kentucky intercepted six passes. Costello threw four interceptions while Rogers tossed two as Kentucky followed the blueprint that Arkansas established in a win over Mississippi State last week by frequently dropping eight defenders into zone coverage.
Mississippi State outgained the Wildcats 295-157 for the game as the teams combined for just 452 total yards. By comparison, Alabama and Ole Miss combined for 644 total yards just in the first half of their game Saturday. After consecutive losses to Arkansas and Kentucky, things are set to get even more difficult for Mississippi State. Next up is a game against No. 21 Texas A&M, which beat No. 4 on Florida on Saturday. Then after a bye week, the Bulldogs play No. 2 Alabama on the road.
"We're going to have to check our group and see who really wants to play here," Leach told reporters after the game.
If there was a bright spot for the Bulldogs on Saturday, it was the healthy return of star running back Kylin Hill, who missed most of last week's loss with an injury. Hill ran just seven times for 17 yards but caught 15 passes for 79 yards against Kentucky. The victory was much-needed for the Wildcats, who started 0-2 with frustrating losses to Auburn and Ole Miss. The Wildcats needed the win as they play Tennessee and Georgia in the next two weeks.