Vegas Betting Odds: Kentucky vs. Southern Miss Free Pick

It’s been a long uphill climb for Mark Stoops, (19-30) now in his fifth year. Two years ago the Wildcats were one play away from going to a bowl. Last year’s 7-6 season featured a season finale upset of in-state rival Louisville as a four touchdown underdog and Kentucky’s first bowl appearance since 2010. With 17 returning starters and a very favorable schedule that includes missing Alabama and LSU out of the SEC West and catching SEC East rivals Tennessee and Florida at home, this could be a big year for football in Lexington. The first order of business is taking care of a tough Southern Miss outfit.

Last year, the Golden Eagles rode the arm of a veteran quarterback and an unheralded defense that was second in the nation in 3rd down stops to go bowling for the second straight year. Nick Mullins has graduated but Keon Howard brings a new dual-threat dimension with his big arm and ability to run. He’ll have a 1400+ yard RB back and eight of the top nine wide out from last year to throw the ball to. With just five returning starters back on defense, you would expect the stop unit to regress so but … the defensive schemes are the same and the Eagles will score more points on offense to compensate.

Kentucky vs. Southern Miss Vegas Odds Preview

Kentucky needs this game in the worst way. The Wildcats lead Southern Miss 35-10 last year in their season opener only to Mullens lead the Eagles to 34 straight points and a 44-35 win. UK was spanked 45-7 at Florida the following week but then showed great resiliency in going 5-2 in their next seven. The Cats are loaded by Kentucky standards and will look to use their ground and pound to the maximum advantage. A win here could set the Wildcats off to a 7-0 start before hosting Tennessee on October 28th. In a perfect storm, with home wins over Florida and Tennessee, could be 10-0 before its showdown at Georgia in mid-November.

Southern Miss has its own aspirations and they’re all very doable. The schedule is not kind as the Eagles play UTSA, La Tech, Tennessee, and Marshall all on the road. Even their nonconference game at UL Monroe is not a gimme. The Eagle season could come down to quarterback play and how quickly Howard transitions into the offense. If the defense can pull off a performance anything close to what it accomplished last year, Southern Miss could be the spoiler in Conference USA.

Free Point Spread Pick & Prediction: Kentucky -10.5 (61.5)

We like Kentucky in this one. We’re not all that much excited about laying double-digits with a team that has struggled on the road as this team has in the past, this number should not be a problem. If Kentucky is able to establish its ground and pound, the Southern Miss offense won’t be on the field long enough to trade points. You might want to consider buying this number down to 10 now or 9.5 if you can find a ten. The number is much more likely to climb with action on Kentucky.

Read More Like This