Week 10: Kentucky at Missouri Preview

Kentucky (5-3) at Missouri (6-2) Nov. 1, 4:00, SEC Network 

Here’s The Deal: If nothing else, these two play interesting games this year. 

Kentucky got its doors blown off by LSU, and came back to push the No. 1 Mississippi State team to the wall in a wild 45-31 loss. The offense has been fun and exciting, and the defense hasn’t been all that bad, even after giving up 89 points over the last two weeks. It’s going to be tough, though, to get that sixth win to become bowl eligible with three of the last four games on the road and the one home game against Georgia. If the Wildcats can play like they did last week against Miss State, they’ll get it, and this might be the easiest chance if Missouri’s offense still struggles. 

The Tigers slipped by a miserable Vanderbilt team in a 24-14 win last week after doing nothing offensively in a bizarre 42-13 blowout over Florida. While the loss to Georgia several weeks ago will make it tough to repeat as SEC East champions, they can still make it very, very interesting by beating Kentucky, Texas A&M, Tennessee and Arkansas to close things out. However, if they play like they have over the last month, that’s not going to happen. At the very least, they’re bowl eligible and they’re plugging along. They’re going to have to get the O moving, though, to keep up the pace with the hot Cats. 

This is the fourth time the two teams have met, with Missouri winning the first two times as an SEC team, but Kentucky winning to kick off the 1965 and 1968 seasons. 

Why Kentucky Might Win: What’s up with Missouri’s offense? The tremendous attack of last year has been a stunning dud so far. Granted, losing Dorial Green-Beckham and the top receivers has been a problem, but the running game has been merely mediocre and the points aren’t coming. Kentucky’s attack might be inconsistent, but it’s moving the ball well at times as long as Patrick Towles is hot. The passing game could be enough to keep the pressure on Mizzou and force Maty Mauk to keep pace. Lately, Maty Mauk isn’t keeping pace with anyone. 

Why Missouri Might Win: It’s easier said than done, but Kentucky is turning into a one-dimensional offensive team. Jojo Kemp still leads the team in rushing thanks to a 131-yard, three touchdown day against South Carolina, but since then he has 13 carries for 28 yards over the last three games. The Wildcat offensive line hasn’t been a total disaster, but it struggles with the better pass rushing teams. Missouri is one of the better pass rushing teams, cranking out tackles for loss on a regular basis and with 26 sacks spread throughout the year. The D line will get to Towles. 

Who To Watch Out For: Mississippi State won the war, but UK QB Patrick Towles won a few battles with 76 yards and two touchdowns on 73 carries to go along with 390 passing yards and two scores. The No. 1 team in the country didn’t have an answer for him, and Missouri has to bottle him up from the start and not let him make plays on the move. A groove player, he didn’t have anywhere to go in the blowout loss to LSU, and it showed. Against the Tigers, he can’t be afraid to push the ball down the field while also keeping his baller’s mentality to simply keep the chains moving. 

What’s Going To Happen: Missouri’s offense is going to struggle, but the team seems to find weird ways to win – at least when it’s not getting its doors blown off by Georgia. It’s not going to be pretty, but the Tiger defense will get to Towles, and the special teams will come up with one big play to turn the tide in the second half. 

Prediction: Missouri 23 … Kentucky 20 
Line: Missouri -6.5 o/u: 49.5 
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