Kentucky seeks their second SEC victory of the season.
LEXINGTON – October 25, 2019 – Bradley Charles – Bluegrass Sports Nation
On Saturday, the Kentucky Wildcats (3-4, 1-4 SEC) host the Missouri Tigers (5-2, 2-1 SEC). Currently, ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Kentucky just over a 35% chance of defeating the Tigers.
Kentucky leads the all-time series 6-3, including a 3-1 record in Lexington. Kentucky has won the last four meetings against the Tigers and owns a 5-0 record against Missouri in games decided by eight points or less.
A Kentucky victory on Saturday would do a lot for the program. A victory would almost assure Kentucky of a six-win season and an appearance in a bowl game. When looking at the remainder of Kentucky’s schedule (listed below), it is clear how a loss on Saturday would really put the Cats in a bind. If Kentucky is able to get the victory on Saturday, that could help propel them to a seven or eight-win regular season. However, if Kentucky loses against Missouri on Saturday, the pressure on the team would begin to build as they would have little room for error in order to reach a bowl game.
Vs Missouri, October 26th
Vs Tennessee November 9th
At Vanderbilt, November 16th
Vs Tennessee Martin, November 23rd
Vs Louisville, November 30th
The good news is that ESPN’s Football Power Index currently gives Kentucky roughly a 26% chance of winning their last four regular season games and roughly a 10% chance of winning the remainder of their regular season games.
As for Kentucky’s quarterback situation, Sawyer Smith’s health remains unclear. Even if Smith starts on Saturday, expect Lynn Bowden to see some reps at quarterback.
A Look at Missouri
The Tigers have seen their share of difficulties on the road this season. Missouri has played two road games so far this season and lost each game. The Tigers lost at Wyoming 37-31 and at Vanderbilt 21-14. If Missouri had merely taken care of business in those road games, they would be 7-0 with convincing wins over West Virginia (38-7), South Carolina (34-14), and Ole Miss (38-27); and would most likely be ranked as a top ten or 15 team in the AP Poll.
Missouri is led by quarterback Kelly Bryant who is a graduate transfer from Clemson. On the season, Bryant has thrown for 1,715 yards, 13 touchdowns, and five interceptions. On the ground, Bryant has carried the ball 73 times for 209 yards and a touchdown.
Running back Larry Rountree III is averaging 83.7 rushing yards per game, while also rushing for eight touchdowns on the season.
The Missouri receiving game is well balanced. Senior wide receiver Johnathan Johnson leads the team in receptions with 28. Junior tight end Albert Okwuegbunam has hauled in six of the team’s 13 passing touchdowns this season. Okwuegbunam, listed at 6’5” 255lbs, has also hauled in 18 receptions for 250 yards. Backup running back Tyler Badie has been a big part of the Tiger passing attack this season as he has hauled in 20 receptions for 215 yards and two touchdowns.
The Missouri defense has shined this season by allowing just 270 yards per game which ranks seventh in the nation in overall defense. The Tiger defense also ranks seventh in the nation in red zone defense. Missouri has recorded 13 sacks on the season and 47 tackles for a loss.
The Tigers are led in total tackles by linebacker Nick Bolton who has 54 on the season. Kobie Whiteside, the 6’1” junior, leads the Tiger pass rush with five sacks on the season. Linebacker Cale Garrett is second on the team in total tackles with 39 and leads the team in interceptions with three.
On Monday, Mark Stoops said, “We know Missouri is a very good football team, very well coached. I have a lot of respect for Barry (Odom) and his staff and his program. They play extremely hard.”
Stoops was also asked about the mounting pressure as the fanbase expects Kentucky to win the majority of the games left on their schedule, to which Stoops replied: “Good. It’s better than everybody expecting us to lose.”
Saturday’s game against Missouri at Kroger Field is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. and will air on the SEC Network. Forecasters say rain is likely in Lexington on Saturday which would certainly have an impact on the game.
BSN will be at Kroger Field to bring you all the action from the game with the UK Coverage Team of Brendon Miller, Ty Back and Bradley Charles!!!