When Kentucky and Missouri meet on Saturday night at 7:30 both squads are looking to break losing streaks. The Cats have dropped four of their last five while the Tigers loss to Vanderbilt snapped a five game winning streak. Who has the advantage in a game that may be affected by weather? Let’s answer that question and more as we begin previewing Missouri at Kentucky.
More Consistency On Offense
A week after amassing over 270 yards of offense in a win over Arkansas Lynn Bowden and the entire Kentucky offense struggled mightily. Playing a monsoon and against a stout Georgia defense the Wildcats only mustered 177 yards of total offense. However only 17 of those came through the air. In fact Bowden didn’t complete a pass until their were about four minutes left in the game.
After missing the last few games, starting quarterback Sawyer Smith may return for the Cats. Having him under center would certainly help what has become a one-dimensional attack with Bowden at the helm. If Smith is able to play, look for Bowden, Ahmad Wagner and the rest of the receivers to be more active in the offensive scheme.
Kentucky did run for 160 yards against the Bulldogs and the Cats will likely attempt to establish the rushing attack against the Tigers. Missouri of course is missing the “heart and soul” of the unit in Cale Garrett. The senior linebacker underwent surgery for a pectoral injury and is out for the season.
Dual Threat Quarterback
Barry Odom’s squad comes into Saturday sporting a 5-2 record. However, like the Wildcats they are coming off a loss. The normally high powered Tiger offense could only muster 275 yards of total offense in a 21-14 loss at Vanderbilt.
Quarterback Kelly Bryant accounted for 212 of those yards rushing for 72 and throwing for 140. On the season the Clemson transfer has thrown for 1,715 yards and 13 touchdowns. In addition Bryant has rushed for 209 yards and another score. Larry Roundtree III leads the rushing attack for the Tigers. His 586 yards ranks fifth in the Southeastern Conference and has found the end zone eight times.
When Bryant goes to the air the team’s leading receiver is Johnathon Johnson who has 28 receptions for 284 yards. In addition they have one of the best tight ends in the country in Albert Okwuegbunam. The junior has 18 catches for the year and six touchdowns, which ties him for third in the league. However the left the game against Vandy with a knee injury and is questionable for Saturday.
The Last Time They Met
Kentucky and Missouri have met nine times on the gridiron. The Cats lead the overall series six to three. UK won back in 1965 and 1968 when the Tigers were in the Big Eight. However since Missouri began playing in the SEC East in 2012 the series has been one of streaks. The Tigers won the first three while the Cats have won the last four.
Last season’s win may be the most memorable with Kentucky’s improbable 15-14 victory. Trailing 14-3 entering the fourth quarter Lynn Bowden returned a punt 67 yards to cutting the lead to five. The Cats missed a two point conversion. Kentucky’s defense, which held Missouri without a first down in the second half, gave the Cats one last chance.
Bucking The Trend
Last week’s loss makes Kentucky 0-7 under Mark Stoops against Georgia. In addition the Cats have lost the game after they play the Bulldogs every year. Right now the Cats sit at 3-4 on the season and are still squarely in the mix for a bowl bid. However Saturday begins a stretch in which they play four of their last five at home. If they are going to make a run now’s the time.
On the other hand the Tigers are still waiting on work from the NCAA on whether they will even be eligible to play in a bowl. With their remaining schedule they should qualify for the post season if they are allowed.
Even with the Wildcats offense struggling the defense has played well the last few weeks. While they were playing in a monsoon shutting out Georgia for two and a half quarters is an impressive feat.
Another thing to watch is the weather. A week after playing in the remnants of Tropical Storm Nestor heavy rain is forecast once again on Saturday. Should that occur the team who runs the ball more effectively and controls the line of scrimmage wins the game.
Kentucky is about a 10 point underdog on Saturday. However a sloppy track and the home field advantage help push the team over the top and keep their bowl hopes alive.
Thanks for previewing Missouri at Kentucky with us here at Last Word On College Football. The Cats have their second bye week next Saturday before they host Tennessee on November 9th.