Kentucky hosts MAC member Akron in final non-league warm up before beginning SEC play
Akron (1-1) at Kentucky (2-0), Saturday, 7:30 p.m. (ESPNU)
Line: Kentucky by 25 1/2, according to FanDuel.com Sportsbook.
Series: Kentucky leads 1-0.
WHAT’S AT STAKE
Kentucky had to rally past neighboring FCS foe Eastern Kentucky 28-17 and seeks a strong effort in its final non-conference game before opening SEC play at Vanderbilt. Akron is coming off a 24-21 win against Morgan State and begins a two-game stretch against Power 5 schools before starting Mid-American Conference play against Buffalo.
Kentucky’s offense vs. Akron’s defense. Last week’s victory showed the Wildcats are capable of stringing together touchdown drives, which allowed them to escape a lower-division upset. They’d now like to score more regularly and climb out of the SEC basement with just seven offensive TDs thus far. Akron features the No. 39 defense in FBS, allowing 292 yards per contest. The Zips were opportunistic against Morgan State with 14 points off three takeaways, including Devonte Golden-Nelson’s two interceptions. Their final turnover set up Bryan McCoy’s 13-yard fumble return for the game-winning TD with 52 seconds remaining.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Akron junior linebacker CJ Nunnally keyed the Zips’ victory over Morgan State by forcing that last-minute fumble that McCoy returned for the game-winning score. He opened with consecutive sacks and finished with three tackles for loss among four stops. He was named this week’s Mid-American Conference East Division top defensive player.
Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary overcame an early interception to deliver his best outing in just his second game with the Wildcats. He rallied the team with touchdown passes on four consecutive possessions and completed 24 of 38 attempts for 299 yards. It marked the ninth time the North Carolina State transfer has thrown for four TDs and tied a career high.
FACTS AND FIGURES
Akron’s Devonte Golden-Nelson scored his first career TD on a 50-yard interception return, one of two against the Bears. … The Zips visit Big Ten foe Indiana next week. … Kentucky received five votes in this week’s AP Top 25 poll. … The Wildcats will celebrate Kroger Field’s 50th anniversary opening during the contest. … Offensive coordinator Liam Coen will be with the team on Saturday after a medical episode on Sunday required overnight hospitalization.
AP college football: https://apnews.com/hub/college-football and https://apnews.com/hub/ap-top-25-college-football-poll