Breaking down the Kentucky Wildcats' matchup against the Auburn Tigers

This AllWildcats.com feature gives you everything you need to know about the Kentucky Wildcats' matchup with the Auburn Tigers on Thursday night at Commonwealth Stadium.

KENTUCKY vs. AUBURN

WHEN: THURSDAY, OCT. 15, 7:00 P.M. ET

WHERE: COMMONWEALTH STADIUM (61,000) LEXINGTON, KY.

TV: ESPN

 

KENTUCKY WILDCATS

Record: 4-1, 2-1 SEC

Ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Mark Stoops (Iowa, 1989) Record: 11-18 (3rd season) at UK: 11-18 (3rd season) vs. Auburn: 0-0

Previous Game: W 34-27 vs. Eastern Kentucky

Next Game: Oct. 24 at Mississippi State

 

AUBURN TIGERS

Record: 3-2, 0-2 SEC

Ranking: Not ranked

Coach: Gus Malzahn (Henderson St., 1990) Record: 32-12 (4th season) at Auburn: 23-9 (3rd season) vs. UK: 0-0

Previous Game: W 35-21 vs. San Jose State

Next Game: Oct. 24 at Arkansas

 

Series Record: Auburn leads, 25-6-1

Last Meeting: Auburn won 37-34 in 2010 at UK



BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:

When Kentucky has the ball Look for the Cats to take advantage of Patrick Towles’ passing AND running skills on Thursday. Mobile quarterbacks have consistently hurt the Auburn defense this season, and Towles has been at his best this year when he’s had a mix of run and pass opportunities to keep opponents honest. Sophomore running back Stanley “Boom” Williams (343 yards, 7.3 ypc) is back in action this week after missing the last game due to a personal issue. Ball control could come into play as UK does not want to give Auburn a chance to get its high-tempo offense rolling. The Tigers are ranked 12th in the SEC in scoring defense (25.4 ppg), 12th in total defense (412 ypg) and dead last in rushing defense (209.6 ypg, 5.2 ypc).  The Cats also need to continue their mastery of the red zone, where they’ve scored on 27 consecutive trips dating back to last season. UK catches a break of sorts as Auburn star linebacker Carl Lawson is expected to miss the game with a lingering hip injury he sustained in Week 1 against Louisville. Senior linebacker Cassanova McKinzy (No. 8, 6-3, 253) leads the Tigers with six quarterback hurries, five tackles for loss and three sacks.

 

When Auburn has the ball The Tigers have struggled royally at the quarterback position this season, alternating between dual-threat Jeremy Johnson and pro-style Sean White. Together, they’ve combined for only five touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Auburn ranks No. 13 in the SEC in passing offense (153.8 ypg). White appears to be the starter heading into this matchup. He’s completed 68 percent of his passes, but has yet to throw for a TD. He’ll be missing one of his most dangerous receiving threats, D’haquille Williams, who was recently dismissed from the AU program. The Cats will need to slow down sophomore running back Peyton Barber (No. 25, 5-11, 225), who has topped the 100-yard mark four times this season. He leads all FBS players with 39 runs that have produced either a first down or touchdown this season. The Tigers are fourth in the SEC in rushing offense (190.0 ypg). If UK can keep Barber contained and force Auburn to be one-dimensional with its shaky quarterback play, that could be the difference in what is expected to be a hard-fought game. The Tigers also have a big weapon in the kicking game, where Daniel Carlson is one of only three kickers in college football this season with multiple 50-plus-yard field goals.



MILESTONE WATCH:

Kentucky junior quarterback Patrick Towles needs just 45 yards passing to move past Randy Jenkins (1979-83) for eighth place on UK’s career list… Junior wideout Ryan Timmons needs 64 yards receiving to become the 25th player in school history to reach the 1,000-yard mark.

 

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:

Kentucky has an 8-7 record all-time on Oct. 15. The Wildcats have not played on this date since 1994, and the last six all came against LSU dating back to 1960. Fran Curci’s Cats spoiled LSU’s 1977 Homecoming with a 33-13 romp in Baton Rouge en route to a 10-1 season. The last time UK played anyone but the Bayou Bengals on Oct. 15 was 1955, a 20-14 loss to Mississippi State in Lexington.

 

NOTES:

  • Kentucky will be playing in its first Thursday night home game at Commonwealth Stadium and the first in Lexington since 1939.
  • For the first time in program history, UK’s first five games have been decided by eight or fewer points.
  • UK did not start a senior on offense in its last game against EKU, the first time that has occurred since lineup records were first charted in 1993.
  • The Cats are 9-0 under Mark Stoops when entering the fourth quarter with a lead.
  • Auburn has not lost in Lexington since 1966, winning in each of its last eight trips.

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