An early look ahead to the Kentucky Wildcats’ next football game:
The game will kick off at 3 p.m. (EST) and be telecast via internet streaming only by SEC Network Plus.
Coach Walt Wells’ Colonels played their season opener at Cincinnati on Saturday in a game that kicked off at 3:30 p.m.
Next Saturday will be only the sixth meeting, all since 1998, between intrastate foes whose football stadiums are separated by only 27.2 miles.
In its five prior meetings with Eastern Kentucky, UK has gone 5-0.
UK coach Mark Stoops is 2-0 vs. EKU.
The Colonels’ Walt Wells will be facing Kentucky as a head coach for the first time.
Most recent meeting
Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson threw for 224 yards and a touchdown and ran for 48 yards and a score as the Wildcats rallied from a 16-10 deficit late in the third quarter to beat Eastern Kentucky 27-16 on Sept. 9, 2017, at Kroger Field.
It was the second straight meeting in which EKU led UK in the second half. In 2015, the Colonels were up 27-13 with five minutes left in the game only to see Kentucky stage a last-gasp charge to pull out a 34-27 overtime victory.
Know your foe
1. Kentucky will have to guard against the temptation to see this more as a reunion than a football game. The EKU program is filled with familiar faces who boast a past connection to the UK football program:
▪ Head coach Walt Wells: He was a quality control aide for UK in 2018 and 2019.
▪ Quarterbacks coach Maxwell Smith: A Kentucky quarterback from 2011 through 2013, Smith started 11 games in an injury-plagued UK career and threw for 3,070 yards and 21 touchdowns as a Wildcat.
In Mark Stoops’ first win as Kentucky head man, Smith threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns in a 41-7 victory over Miami (Ohio) in 2013. Subsequently, Smith spent three seasons as a graduate assistant for Stoops at UK.
▪ Tight ends coach C.J. Conrad: As a Kentucky tight end from 2015 through 2018, Conrad caught 80 passes for 1,015 yards and 12 touchdowns. His most famous play as a Cat came in 2018, when he hauled in a 2-yard Terry Wilson pass on an untimed, final play to give UK a 15-14 win at Missouri.
From 2020 through this past summer, Conrad worked for UK football as a graduate assistant and, then, an offensive quality control aide.
▪ Redshirt freshman running back Isaac Dixon: The former Belfry High School star was on the Kentucky roster last season as a walk-on.
▪ Sophomore defensive back Treyveon Longmire: The ex-Corbin Redhounds star was once a UK recruiting commit.
▪ Freshman wide receiver Jakob Dixon: A former Pleasure Ridge Park standout, Dixon signed with Kentucky in the class of 2023 but left the Wildcats program after a few weeks this summer.
▪ Redshirt senior wideout Jalen Burbage: The former Bryan Station High School star, a transfer from Lehigh, is the son of ex-UK receiver Cornell Burbage.
▪ Freshman quarterback Jackson House: The 6-foot, 185-pound product of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the son of ex-UK and current LSU defensive coordinator Matt House.
2. EKU super-senior quarterback Parker McKinney will be one of the most accomplished passers Kentucky will face in 2023. The 6-3, 208-pound product of Coalfield, Tennessee, threw for 3,956 yards and 33 touchdowns in 2022 while leading the Colonels to a berth in the FCS playoffs.
For his career, McKinney entered the 2023 season having thrown for 9,718 yards with 74 touchdowns vs. 32 interceptions.
3. EKU has two Kentucky Mr. Football winners on its roster. Ex-Beechwood quarterback Cam Hergott was the 2021 winner of the award signifying the top high school football player in Kentucky.
Ex-Belfry running back Isaac Dixon (see above) was the 2021 Kentucky Mr. Football.