Kentucky hasn't won a road game since 2011 when they beat WKU in Nashville 14-3 in the "They supposed to be SEC" game and hasn't won an SEC road game since 2009 when they beat Georgia 34-29 between the hedges. So, is it any wonder that the game opened up with Kentucky as a 7 point underdog?
On the Road
In 2009, Rich Brooks last season, Kentucky beat Miami (OH) in Cincinnati 42-0. Here's our road games since:
2009 4-2 in road games, 3-1 in SEC road games
South Carolina L 26-28
Auburn W 21-14
Vanderbilt W 24-13
Georgia W 34-27
Clemson (Music City Bowl) L 13-21
2010 1-5 road games, 0-4 in SEC road games
Louisville W 23-16
Florida L 14-48
Ole Miss L 35-42
Mississippi St. L 17-24
Tennessee L 14-24
Pittsburgh (BBVA Compass Bowl) L 10-27
2011 1-4 road games, 0-4 in SEC road games
WKU W 14-3
LSU L 7-35
South Carolina L 3-54
Vanderbilt L 8-38
Georgia L 10-19
2012 0-5 in road games, 0-4 in SEC road games
Louisville L 14-32
Florida L 0-38
Arkansas L 7-49
Missouri L 10-33
Tennessee L 17-37
2013 0-4 in road games, 0-3 in SEC road games
WKU L 26-35
South Carolina L 28-35
Vanderbilt L 6-22
Georgia L 17-59
2014 (to date)
Florida L 36-30 (3 OT)
LSU L 3-41
Is Missouri our best opportunity for win # 6? Eh... yeah, maybe. I only say maybe because Missouri's two losses came at home against Indiana (WTF?) 27-31 and Georgia 0-34 in a blowout.
Plus, their win in Gainesville, FL was no thing of offensive beauty. Mizzou gained a grand total of 99 yards on the ground and another 20 through the air. They beat the Gators with a rushing TD, a kickoff return TD, a punt return TD, two field goals, get the idea? If not, go here. Florida just plain sucked in this homecoming game. The question has to be asked..."Was Florida a better team against Kentucky?" Statistically, yes. So, what do we know about the boys from Columbia, MO? They can play when they play and they can look real bad when they don't play. They play their worst at home. You can compare the schedules which are about even.
Let's look at some NCAA stats and compare Maty Mauk and Patrick Towles:
Points responsible for per game: Mauk - 13.0 (48th), Towles - 12.0 (t-60th)
Completion %: Towles - 60.1% (59th), Mauk - 52.0% (106th)
Passing Yards per game: Towles - 259.6 (30th), Mauk - 171.0 (86th)
Passing TDs: Mauk - 16 (t-28th), Towles - 12 (t-42nd)
Passing Efficiency: Towles - 136.2 (52nd), Mauk - 119.8 (85th)
There is a subtle difference between these two quarterbacks that are noteworthy and that's in touchdowns.
In non conference games, Mauk has been outstanding. Against South Dakota State (home), Mauk threw for three TDs of 44, 39 and 29 yards. On the day he 13-21-0 for 178 yards. He also ran for a net gain of 17 yards. At Toledo (away), he threw for 4 TDs of 7, 13, 25 and 12 yards. On the day, he finished with 21-32-2. for 325 yards. Plus, he added a rushing TD of 1 yard which gave him a net of 36 yards on 12 carries. When Central Florida came to Columbia, Mauk ended the day with another 4 TDs of 11, 10, 21,and 22 yards. He was 14-21-1 for 144 yards. On the ground, he had a net gain of 30 yards on six carries. Against Indiana, he ended the day with 29-48-1 for 331 yards and two TDs for 45 and 1 yards. On the ground, he finished with 32 net yards on 13 carries.
Against the Tigers' SEC foes, Mauk was 12-34-0 for 132 yards and no passing TDs against South Carolina. On the ground, he had a net of 9 yards on 6 carriers and no TDs. Against Georgia, Mauk went 9-24-4 for 97 yards and no TDs. On the ground, he had 7 carries for a -17 net and no TDs. In the Swamp, Florida held Mauk to 20 yards passing on 6-18-1 and 38 net yards on the ground on 7 carries. Last week when Vanderbilt came into Columbia, Mauk ended the day with 2 TDs of 13 and 25 yards on 11-23-0 for 141 yards. On the ground, he had 58 net yards on 7 carries.
In non-conference action - In the opening game against UT-Martin, Towles threw for 20-29-0 for 377 yards and one TD on a 29 yard pass to Blake Bone. He also had 3 carries on the ground for a net of 30 yards, including a 23 yard TD. Against Ohio, he was 17-31-0 for 170 yards and 1 touchdown for 8 yards. He also had a net of 59 yards on 22 carries. Against Louisiana- Monroe, Towles threw for three touchdowns of 83, 4 and 21 yards, He finished with 216 yards on 16-28-0. He also carried the ball 8 times for a net of zero yards.
In SEC action, Towles threw for three TDs of 60, 33 and 25 yards on 24-45-3 against Florida and a total of 369 yards for the game. He also had a net of 22 yards on 9 carries. Vanderbilt held Patrick to 3 net rushing yards on 15 carries, but he managed to get a 1 yard touchdown. In the air, he went for 23-30-1 for 201 yards and one TD for 20 yards to Ryan Timmons. Against South Carolina, Kentucky went with the Wildcat if you'll recall and Towles went for 20-29-0 and 208 yards. He had that trick play throw out of the Wildcat to Ryan Timmons for a 48 yard touchdown. On the ground, Towles had 3 carries for a - 2 net yards. Kentucky didn't score any TDs in the loss to LSU in Baton Rouge. Patrick carried the ball 7 times for a net gain of 16 yards. He did manage 146 yards passing and went 19-36-0 for the night. In perhaps his best game of the season, Patrick scored two touchdowns on the ground and another two through the air. His two touchdown runs were from 10 and 4 yards out and his two TD passes were for 67 and 58 yards against #1 Mississippi State. His final numbers were 23 carries for a net of 76 yards and 24-43-0 for 390 yards in the Air Raid.
You can determine on your own who you think is the better quarterback. In my opinion, Patty Ice is the man.
Moving on due to time constraints, we'll look at some team stats:
Total Offense: Kentucky - 426.5 (53rd), Mizzou - 331.4 (114th)
Rushing Yds per game: Missouri - 160.4 (67th), Kentucky 159.9 (68th)
Passing Yds per game: Kentucky - 266.6 (38th), Mizzou 171.0 (111th)
Total Defense: Mizzou - 350.5 (38th), Kentucky - 378.3 (56th)
Rushing : Mizzou - 139.0 (39th), Kentucky - 192.6 (t-97th)
Passing: Kentucky - 185.6 (15th), Mizzou - 211.9 (t-42nd)
Scoring Offense: Kentucky - 31.6 (t-50th), Mizzou - 29.9 (t-65th)
Scoring Defense: Mizzou - 20.5 (24th), Kentucky - 24.8 (53rd)
What follows is a more detailed comparison between the two teams as well as our future foes:
To sum up on this game, it appears this one is Kentucky's best chance of that 6th win. Getting a win against an SEC opponent is no easy task for a team that hasn't won on the road for such a long time. If Missouri plays like they did against Indiana and Georgia, Kentucky will win. If the Tigers play as well as they are capable, Kentucky still could win, but the Wildcats will have to play their best game of the year on offense, defense AND special teams. They've not done that yet. With all the mistakes that the Wildcats have made to date, they've been competitive in all but one game (LSU). I'm not convinced that this team can win on the road. They may be a year away. While my heart says Kentucky will pull this out, my mind says "No." 7 points is about right. Agree?
Georgia is up next after the big cocktail party against Florida. If Florida can pull off an upset, I wonder if that will be enough for Will Muschamp (#1 on the coaches hot seat) to keep his job? That could be with the Florida administration, but I don't think so with the fans. Anyway, I don't think Florida even has a chance against UGA. I don't think Kentucky has much of a chance when the Dawgs come to Lexington next week, unless UGA is coming off a big win in Jacksonville. The good news for Kentucky is that Todd Gurley won't be eligible until after the Kentucky game. The bad news is that Nick Chubb is almost as good as Gurley. Gurley averaged 8.2 ypg before his suspension and Chubb is averaging 5.7 ypg.
Tennessee keeps improving, but it is not showing up in the win column. The game is in Knoxville. That alone reduces Kentucky's chances for winning. With the new kid, Joshua Dobbs at quarterback, UT's offense should begin to move the ball because he's a dual threat. Jerry Claiborne's 1984 team was the last UK team to win in Neyland Stadium. The last time we even beat the Vols, it eventually cost their head coach his job. Remember Dooley was fired the following season (2012). If we were to beat the Vols in Knoxville, would it be the death bell for Butch Jones?
Louisville has a stout defense. No one can argue that. This defense, however, was built by Charlie Strong. Todd Grantham is no Charlie Strong. Grantham's defenses at UGA weren't as good as this Louisville defense. Last night's game against FSU exposed a lack of depth. in my opinion. I think it is also wise to wonder about their schedule. FSU let the Cards give it their best shot, but after the half time adjustments, the Seminole put up 35 points. It didn't look to me that Louisville made any adjustments at the half. I will have to say that UL's O-line looked good in the first half. They gave Will Gardner some nice protection and opened some holes for Michael Dyer.
Anyway, this week is Missouri for our Cats, and we have to hope our OL and DL will have improved. That's where the games are won or lost. As for Special Teams, we can't get much worse. Win #6? What say you?