Quick hitters from a football state:
21. An ex-Cat fight. When New Mexico State visits New Mexico on Saturday at 7 p.m. (EDT) in a renewal of the ”Rio Grande Rivalry,” former Kentucky Wildcats quarterbacks will loom large in the contest.
20. Terry Wilson. Last week, in his first start as New Mexico Lobos QB, Wilson did for UNM what he had done 17 times in his 25 starts as the Kentucky quarterback: He won the game.
19. Overcoming the Baptists. With Wilson completing 20 of 26 passes for 174 yards and three touchdowns and running for a team-high 49 yards, New Mexico beat Houston Baptist 27-17 in week one.
18. Doug Martin. Recruited to Kentucky out of Oak Ridge, Tenn., by Fran Curci, the quarterback made four starts for UK during Jerry Claiborne’s difficult first season (0-10-1) as top Cat in 1982. Now, Martin is in his ninth season as New Mexico State head coach.
17. Martin’s miracle. In 2017, Martin’s fifth season at New Mexico State, he coached the Aggies to a 7-6 record and a victory over Utah State in the Arizona Bowl. For the chronically underfunded NMSU program, it was the first winning season since 2002 and the first bowl trip since 1960.
16. No lasting impact. Alas, the feel-good results in 2017 have not carried over. Including this year’s 0-2 start, the Aggies are 6-22 since the Arizona Bowl and Martin’s name has begun to pop up on “coaching hot seat” lists.
New Mexico State will play Kentucky in Lexington on Nov. 20.
15. Closer than expected? New Mexico opened as a 21.5-points favorite over New Mexico State, but recent history suggests the battle of ex-UK QBs will be close: The Lobos and Aggies have split their last four meetings and the margins of victory have been one, two, 17 and three points, respectively.
14. More ‘Ex-files.’ Terry Wilson was not the only former Kentucky Wildcats football player to make noise in the first week of the 2021 college football season.
13. Walker Wood. The former Lafayette High School and UK quarterback is playing some flanker at McNeese State. Wood caught six passes for 98 yards in the Cowboys’ 42-36 season-opening loss to West Florida.
McNeese State will play at LSU this week.
12. Bryce Oliver. The ex-Kentucky wideout caught two passes for 15 yards and a touchdown to help Youngstown State beat Incarnate Word 44-41 in overtime.
Youngstown State will play at Michigan State this week.
11. Bryant Koback. The former Kentucky running back has enjoyed a stellar career (2,678 career rushing yards) at Toledo. In a 49-10 win over Norfolk State, Koback ran for 52 yards and two touchdowns on nine carries and caught a team-high three passes for 35 yards.
Toledo will play at Notre Dame this week.
10. Stanley Garner. The ex-UK defensive back, now at Hampton, had three tackles and a pass breakup in a 42-28 win over Virginia Union.
Hampton will play at Old Dominion this week.
9. Cash Gilliam. The former Kentucky defensive back — who went by “Tobias Gialliam” in his UK days — had four tackles and a quarterback hurry to help Utah State upset Pac-12 foe Washington State, 26-23.
8. Jaylin Bannerman. The ex-UK outside linebacker was a disruptive presence for Utah State in the win over Washington State. Bannerman accounted for 2.5 tackles for loss, a quarterback sack and a QB hurry.
Utah State will play North Dakota on Friday at 7 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network.
7. “The Grant McKinniss Hex?” When Mark Stoops and Kentucky face off with Eli Drinkwitz and Missouri on Saturday night in a pivotal early-season SEC game, UK could be facing a powerful “whammy.”
6. 2016. With then-Kentucky punter Grant McKinniss averaging 39.2 yards on five punts, the Wildcats bested Missouri 35-21.
5. 2017. With McKinniss sitting out at UK as a redshirt, the Cats edged Mizzou 40-34.
4. 2018. With McKinniss kicking off three times for Kentucky and producing one touchback, UK edged Missouri 15-14.
3. 2019. With McKinniss kicking off six times for Kentucky and producing five touchbacks, UK blitzed Missouri 29-7.
2. 2020. After switching sides via graduate transfer, now-Missouri punter McKinniss punted four times for 38.5 yards and pinned Kentucky inside its 20-yard line three times as the Tigers tamed the Wildcats 20-10 in Columbia.
1. 2021? Using the “extra year” that the NCAA offered athletes due to the coronavirus pandemic, McKinniss will return to Lexington on Saturday night to again punt for Missouri.
The scenario: The team that has had Grant McKinniss on its roster has won the past five Kentucky-Missouri football games.
So whether UK is able to beat Mizzou in a game that figures to be consequential to the ultimate disposition of the Wildcats’ season will tell us definitively whether or not there is an enduring “Grant McKinniss Hex.”