Missouri Tigers vs. Kentucky Wildcats Preview: Better Than Advertising, But the Slogans Were Different

Jamie Squire

Missouri's better than we thought they were going to be, which means they're a whole lot better than Kentucky

Missouri Tigers vs. Kentucky Wildcats, 12 p.m. ET, ESPNU

This is a high-stakes game with implications for the SEC East title. It's also probably going to be a pretty boring blowout.

I've said over and over again that I believe that Kentucky is a better team than most people give them credit for being, and I believe that -- but Kentucky being a better team than most people give them credit for being also leaves a lot of run for Kentucky to be a pretty bad team. It's a roster in transition with a new coaching staff installing a new system at a program that was already scraping the bottom when Mark Stoops came in. Expecting anything more than three wins at this point was probably delusional -- and the Cats have three along with the relatively close loss to Western Kentucky.

So, yes, Kentucky has a terrible offense -- but the running game is tied for 69th in the country on a per-game basis, which is about average on its own and even more so when you consider that the Wildcats have been on the losing end of some lopsided games. They're in triple digits on some statistical measures, with passing efficiency defense and third-down conversion rates on both sides of the ball leaping out. But there are some other teams that are ranked 100th or worse in several different categories and don't take as much flak as the 'Cats do. They're a bad team, but they're not epically awful.

Missouri, on the other hand, is a better team than many expected in ways that have shown up in the record. Henry Josey hasn't had a ton of 100-yard games, but he's averaging 5.7 yards a pop as part of a rushing attack that has churned out 237.2 yards a game. L'Damian Washington averages four catches for almost 76 yards a game. And while Maty Mauk hasn't been spectacular, he's been good enough to get Mizzou this far.

This far: the Tigers are 8-1, they are the only team that controls their own destiny in the SEC East, and they won their first potential title-crushing upset last week in convincing fashion. This week will be no different. Kentucky is better than you think they are, but Missouri is still a lot better than Kentucky.

Missouri 42, Kentucky 10

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