Eagles Look to Pull Upset of Cats Saturday

By Shane Shackleford

Contributing Columnist

Off the heels of a season-opening victory over MAC foe Toledo, the Kentucky Wildcats will host another foe from the same conference as the Eastern Michigan Eagles invade Kroger Field on Saturday night. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m. with TV coverage provided by the SEC Network.

UK will also be celebrating Heroes Day at the stadium, saluting the military and first responders. Good stuff.

The Cats (1-0) look to continue their winning ways against the Eagles (1-0), who come to Lexington with a 30-20 victory on the road over Sun Belt foe Coastal Carolina. UK owns a 38-24 victory over the Rockets.

If EMU looks familiar to UK fans, there’s a good reason for that. In 2017, the Eagles came to Kroger Field and nearly pulled the upset of the Cats before falling 24-20. In the game, EMU outgained UK 312-228 and had the ball late in the game with a chance to score and win. Needless to say, UK coach Mark Stoops will have his team ready to go for this matchup.

Let’s take a look at the Eagles. A quick scouting report if you will.

Total Offense- 291 yards

Rushing- 103 yds.

Passing- 188 yds.

Total Defense- 378 yards

Rushing- 74 yds.

Passing- 304 yds.

Offense- Third Down Conversion %- 45%

Offense- Red Zone Conversion %- 80%

Defense- Turnovers Forced- 4

EMU Leaders

Rushing- Senior RB Shaq Vann- 22 carries, 78 yards.

Passing- Senior QB Mike Glass III- 20-22, 188 yards.

Receiving- Sophomore WR Dylan Drummond- three receptions, 52 yards.

Tackler- Senior LB Kobie Beltram, 11 total tackles

Interceptions- Four players tied with one.

What Do I Need to Know About the Eagles?

Since 2016, the Eagles are 20-19 with three straight bowl appearances.

The Eagles are 18-2 when they win the turnover battle.

EMU is playing well against the run, only allowing 74 yards against CCU.

The Eagles are also coming off a great performance from their secondary, forcing three interceptions.

Offensively, the Eagles like to spread the ball around. EMU had eight receivers with a catch Saturday, while five rushers had a carry.

Let’s also take a quick look at the Kentucky Wildcats through the same scouting lens.

Total Offense- 422 yards

Rushing- 176 yds.

Passing- 246 yds.

Total Defense- 347 yards

Rushing- 181 yds.

Passing- 166 yds.

Offense- Third Down Conversion %- 27%

Offense- Red Zone Conversion %- 100%

Defense- Turnovers Forced- 1

UK Leaders

Rushing- Junior RB AJ Rose (16 carries, 64 yards, TD) and Sophomore RB Kavoisey Smoke (7 carries, 78 yards, TD)

Passing- Junior QB Terry Wilson (19-26, 246 yds, 2 TD)

Receptions- Junior WR Lynn Bowden Jr. (six receptions, 77 yards)

Tackles- Sophomore LB DeAndre Square (nine total)

Interceptions- Square- 1

Three Keys to a Wildcat Win

Continued positive development and decision making of Wilson in the pocket.

UK running backs continue to find success running the ball.

Cats defense continues to develop, especially the secondary.

Prediction — Cats 33, Eagles 14

Shane Shackleford is a regional sports columnist from Speedwell, TN. You can follow him at KySportsStyle.com Magazine, A Sea of Blue, and various local and social media.