Time: Saturday, October 27th, 4 p.m. ET/3 p.m. CT
TV: SEC Network/WatchESPN
Commentators: Taylor Zarzour, Matt Stinchcomb & Kris Budden
Odds: Missouri (-7) O/U: 56
This Week, the Missouri Tigers and the Kentucky Wildcats are meeting for the seventh time since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012. Since the expansion, this series is tied at 3-3, with Mizzou taking the first three and UK taking the last three.
The season for the hosts of this game has been up and down. Missouri is sitting at 4-3 after having swept their non-conference games for the season. These wins include a 40-37 thriller over the currently red hot Purdue Boilermakers in West Lafayette. The conference slate hasn’t been as kind. The Tigers have dropped games to Georgia, South Carolina and Alabama.
Kentucky enters this game on a mission to make history. At 6-1, the Wildcats are dreaming of a trip to Atlanta. UK has been known to start fast against lesser opponents and proceed to crash and burn. But this year, they finally beat Florida and have secured at least a .500 conference record by mid-October. Shaky offensive performances in recent weeks have fans nervous, however.
Will we see Mizzou spoil the party on Saturday?
Kentucky: Will the Wildcats be able to pass?
It’s no secret that UK has been a little one-dimensional on offense this season. Fine, a lot one-dimensional. The Cats are currently 14th in the country in rushing YPG, but are a paltry 126th in passing YPG. Terry Wilson has been struggling in the last couple of games, combining for 126 passing yards vs. Texas A&M and Vanderbilt. Yards will need to be gained through the air due to the Tigers’ ability to put up points. With Missouri having a passing yards allowed ranking in the 120s, maybe Wilson or potentially even Gunnar Hoak or Danny Clark can find some success. A spotlight will be on the UK sideline on Saturday.
Missouri: Can Drew Lock find success against an SEC defense?
During his career in Columbia, Drew Lock has wowed the nation with his ability to just straight up sling the football. He is only the ninth SEC player ever to pass for 10,000 yards and currently sits at seventh on the all-time conference career passing yardage list. While these numbers are certainly impressive, on the flip side, he only has a 50.5% completion percentage against SEC foes in his career. 29 of his 39 career interceptions have come against conference opponents as well. Not only is Kentucky an SEC defense, they are currently fourth in defensive S&P+. This will be a huge opportunity for Lock to start to reverse the narrative.
I can’t see any scenario where this game isn’t close. While Kentucky is looking to improve in the passing game, Benny Snell and A.J. Rose will still be able to grind some clock on the ground. Keeping the ball away from the Mizzou offense seems like a smart plan for Eddie Gran.
The UK defense has been stout, especially against the run, but they still have a tendency to give up chunk plays through the air from time to time. With speedsters like Johnathon Johnson, Jalen Knox and potentially Emanuel Hall if he’s healthy enough, Mizzou is a proven threat for explosive plays.
When it’s all said and done, I believe this game will be decided in the trenches. Terry Beckner and Walter Palmore will disrupt UK’s rushing attack some, but I think the Wildcat front seven is the best unit on the field in this one. The threat of Josh Allen or Boogie Watson rushing from the edge will force Albert Okwuegbunam to have to block more than he wants to and make Drew Lock uncomfortable. The rest of the UK front is more than capable of slowing down the Mizzou rushing attack.
Kentucky 28, Missouri 24