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Kentucky Wildcats vs Missouri Tigers: A Statistical Breakdown

How do the two teams compare and what are the X-Factors of Saturday’s game?

Jason Marcum

Saturday evening’s matchup will be pivotal for both teams going into the second half of the season. Kentucky is heading into their bye week as Missouri is coming off of their bye week. Both teams will need the momentum as their schedules will become a grueling test of guts and stamina.

Kentucky has an opportunity to start the season 5-1, including a chance to begin 2-1 in the SEC. It is widely known Kentucky hasn’t finished with above a .500 record in the SEC since 1977. Missouri is fighting to save their season, as they have lost their last three games against Power 5 conference opponents. Coming off a bye week has given them extra time to prepare for the Wildcats. How do the teams stack up against each other?

Passing:

Missouri

  • 279 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,115 passing yards in four games)
  • 5:3 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio (10 Tds to 6 INTs on the year)
  • 52.6% Completion Percentage on 133 pass attempts (33 per game)

Drew Lock has started a majority of his career at Missouri since arriving on campus in 2015, and NFL Scouts have taken notice. While he isn’t a mobile quarterback (only four rushing yards this season) he is a player that has the arm to win Missouri games. So far, this year, that has not been the case. He may be the best player on Missouri’s offense, so Kentucky will need to disrupt his timing in order to win.

Kentucky

  • 194 Passing Yards-Per-Game (969 passing yards in five games)
  • 7:1 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio
  • 63.7% Completion Percentage on 124 pass attempts (25 per game)

Stephen Johnson is coming into his own as one of the best quarterbacks in recent Kentucky history. Johnson is a terrific game manager. He makes plays when he needs to, and avoids turning the ball over at all costs. He is the leader of this Kentucky offense. If Missouri has any chance to win they will have to find a way to ruffle Johnson’s feathers. That will not be an easy task.

Rushing:

Missouri

  • 5 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 133 attempts
  • 166.5 Rushing-Yards-Per Game (666 rushing yards in four games)
  • 3 Rushing Touchdowns in four games

Missouri has three running backs over 100 yards on the season so far, led by sophomore Damarea Crockett. Crockett has as many attempts (59) as the other two (senior Ish Witter and freshman Larry Rountree III) combined. He is also averaging 6.3 yards-per-carry. Shutting down Crockett will be no easy task for the Kentucky front seven.

Kentucky

  • 3.4 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 190 attempts
  • 128.4 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (642 rushing yards in five games)
  • 6 Rushing Touchdowns in five games

Benny Snell has more carries than the rest of the Kentucky football roster combined, yet he is averaging under four yards-per-carry. That isn’t what fans expected coming into the year. The offensive line has been to blame so far, along with the dregs of the ‘Wildcat’ offensive formation. However, Snell still shows the same power, speed, and determination he had last year, and is bound to keep leading the ‘Cats ground game. Sihiem King is the change-of-pace specialist this season, providing jitterbug quickness when the ball is in his hands.

Receiving:

Missouri

  • J’Mon Moore: 12 receptions, 312 yards (26 Yards-Per-Catch), 3 TDs, Senior
  • Johnathan Johnson: 18 receptions, 233 yards, 2 TDs, Sophomore
  • Dimetrios Mason: 13 receptions, 119 yards, 0 TDs, Sophomore

Missouri has five players over 100 yards receiving, and three over 20 YPC. Missouri has a big play element that Kentucky has been prone to give up in the early portion of this season. This group could be what keeps Missouri in the game on Saturday.

Kentucky

  • Garrett Johnson: 20 receptions, 222 yards, 1 TD, Senior
  • C.J. Conrad: 9 receptions, 195 yards, 3 TDs, Junior
  • Blake Bone: 5 receptions, 116 yards, 1 TD, Senior

Kentucky is still figuring out who else they can rely on at wide receiver past Johnson. Kayaune Ross gets some action, Charles Walker is stepping up as a senior, and Tavin Richardson is listed as a starter at one of the wide receiver positions. The key to the receiving game is true freshman Lynn Bowden. He’s showed off his superstar potential, and it’ll be up to Eddie Gran to unlock it.

Defense:

Missouri

  • 40 Points-Per-Game (160 points in four games)
  • 258 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,031 passing yards in four games)
  • 195 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (779 rushing yards in four games)
  • 6 Passing Touchdowns, 14 Rushing Touchdowns in four games
  • 2 Interceptions, 3 Forced Fumbles, 1 Fumble Recovery
  • 49% Third Down Conversion Rate

Woof. If there is a hole to exploit on this Missouri team it may just be the Tigers’ defense. Too easy? The Missouri defense has given up a whopping 40 points-per-game, including 14 (FOURTEEN!!!) rushing touchdowns in just four games. They don’t cause turnovers, and offenses convert a first down on almost half of third down situations. It’ll be a long night for the Missouri defense in Lexington.

Kentucky

  • 18.8 Points-Per-Game (94 points in five games)
  • 275.4 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,377 passing yards in five games)
  • 74 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (370 rushing yards in five games)
  • 9 Passing Touchdowns, 4 Rushing Touchdowns
  • ·6 Interceptions, 7 Forced Fumbles, 5 Fumble Recoveries
  • 30.5% Third Down Conversion Rate

The differences between these two defenses could not be more apparent. Kentucky fans can feel comfortable knowing these two key statistical differences: Kentucky has double the amount of interceptions as Missouri has turnovers, and Kentucky has given up one less touchdown all season than Missouri has given up rushing touchdowns. Oh, and Denzil Ware and Josh Allen coming off of the edges? A nightmare for Missouri. The only thing Kentucky is prone to giving up that Missouri is good at capitalizing on is the big play. Kentucky penchant for creating turnovers should be their saving grace once again.

X-Factor Stats:

Missouri

  • Defense has given up 14 scores on 15 trips in the redzone
  • Teams have made only four field goals on eight attempts against Missouri
  • Missouri losses the Time of Possession battle against opponents 21:31 to 38:29
  • Missouri has only had four kickoffs returned against them this year, but has given up 161 yards and a touchdown within those four kicks

Kentucky

  • Kentucky is averaging 20.8 yards-per-punt return
  • After questions surrounding punting in the spring, Kentucky has averaged 43 yards-per-punt
  • Kick return game is explosive, as King is averaging over 30 yards-per-return

This game for is crucial for Kentucky. They have a chance to go into their Bye with an SEC win against a lesser opponent in Missouri. The offenses could be considered fairly even, but the difference between the two defenses is astounding. Kentucky has the feel of a team that should be favored in more SEC contests than any time in recent memory. Saturday they will have to prove it.

  • Time: 7:30 EST, 6:30 CST
  • Where: Kroger Field, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Television: SEC Network
  • Weather: Projected high of 80 degrees, low of 68

All statistics retrieved from cfbstats.com.