LEXINGTON - Kentucky will return to Commonwealth Stadium for the Homecoming Game, a 7:30 p.m. ET matchup, with Alabama State on Saturday. Saturday’s game will close out the non-conference portion of UK’s schedule, with the Wildcats 1-2 vs. non-conference opponents so far this season. The Wildcats and Hornets have never played before.
Kentucky will be looking to bounce back from a 28-22 loss at Mississippi State last Thursday, which saw a furious second-half comeback attempt fall just short. The Wildcats amassed 325 yards of total offense, the most in 2013 against a Southeastern Conference opponent. UK’s 160 rushing yards last week was a season high for a SEC game. The UK defense had eight tackles for loss against MSU, which was the most it has recorded this season.
Individually, senior linebacker Avery Williamson leads the SEC in tackles with 74, and he is the only player in the conference averaging more than 10 stops per game. Za’Darius Smith ranks fourth in the SEC in sacks per game. Alvin “Bud” Dupree ranks fifth in the league in sacks per game and he is coming of his best game of the year, having totaled a career-high 13 tackles and two tackles for a loss including a sack at Mississippi State.
Alabama State will enter Commonwealth Stadium on Saturday on a six-game winning streak. The Hornets dropped their first two games of the season before the winning streak, which has them receiving votes in the FCS Coaches Top 25. ASU is coming off a 31-7 win last weekend over Alabama A&M. ASU is 3-1 at home and 2-1 on the road this season.
The Alabama State offense has been led this season by former Georgia All-America junior running back Isaiah Crowell, who has 833 rushing yards on 123 carries, including 12 touchdowns. Crowell was a first-team Freshman All-American at Georgia in 2011 and was Freshman All-SEC by the Associated Press before transferring to Alabama State. He paces an ASU rushing attack that is averaging 261.8 yards per game on the ground. Sophomore quarterback Daniel Duhart is completing over 57% of his passes for 1,307 yards and 12 touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Earl Lucas has 36 receptions this season for 432 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore wide receiver DeMario Bell has 22 catches for 465 yards and two touchdowns. Wide receivers Myles Everett and Marcus Gamble also have two TD receptions this season. Overall, ASU is averaging 477.8 yards of total offense a game.
The Hornets defense has played well this season, creating a +6 turnover margin with eight interceptions and 11 fumbles recovered. As a team, ASU has 80 tackles for loss this season and 38 sacks. Freshman linebacker Kourtney Berry paces the team in tackles with 70, adding seven tackles for loss, five sacks, one interception, three pass breakups and two fumbles recovered. Senior linebacker Leland Baker paces the team with 14.5 tackles for loss and five sacks, while seven ASU players have three or more sacks this season. Sophomore defensive back Nichola Martin has 11 pass breakups this season, while Najee Bright and Maurice Tate have two interceptions each.
Kentucky has additional regular-season games remaining versus Missouri (Nov. 9, home), Vanderbilt (Nov. 16, away), Georgia (Nov. 23, away) and Tennessee (Nov. 30, home).