The #12/14 Wildcats need to win out to control their fate and land in Atlanta and the SEC Championship Game. Standing in their way is a very stiff challenge in Missouri.
Even though the Tigers are 4-3 (0-3 SEC), don’t let that fool you. Missouri has a pyrotechnic offense led by star QB Drew Lock and a bevy of skill players on both sides of the ball that could make the Show Me state a rough place to be for BBN.
With that in mind, the crack staff at A Sea of Blue come to the roundtable to forecast how they see the Cats/Tigers match-up playing out.
This game has trap written all over it for Kentucky. Everyone associated with Kentucky football is stoked to have Georgia coming to Lexington a week from Saturday, but for that game to have a lot of meaning in the SEC race, both must take care of the challenges in front of them this Saturday in Florida and Missouri, respectively.
It’s no secret how powerful the Mizzou offense can be; witnessed by the Tigers scoring over 40 points on four occasions and producing 65 against Memphis last Saturday. However, the Tiger defense can give up points in bunches; witnessed by the Tigers giving up over 37 points in their three losses.
I don’t look for a high scoring game though. Kentucky’s defense is battle tested and won’t give up a ton of yards and points. However, I think the Cat offense will have some semblance of a passing game to go with their power run game.
Prediction: Kentucky 28, Missouri 21
The Wildcats have done a good job of actually positioning themselves to where this actually isn’t a must-win game like we thought it would earlier in the season for them to stay in the SEC East race. Because Georgia already has a loss, Kentucky can afford a loss this week if they beat the Bulldogs in Week 10, which puts the Wildcats in first place (if Georgia beats Florida this week).
So, a loss Saturday won’t be the end of the world. While we’d like to think Kentucky wins Saturday, their offense is far too big of a question mark right now to feel comfortable about winning on the road against a quality opponent.
Kentucky’s only road win this year is actually over a top-10 Florida team, but that night saw Terry Wilson play the best game of his life. He’s regressed mightily since then, so much that Kentucky is contemplating a quarterback change.
That doesn’t bode well for Saturday against a potential first-round quarterback in Drew Lock, who may be the biggest test this Kentucky defense faces this season.
It’s going to be a dogfight that comes down to the wire, but until Kentucky’s offense comes back to life, I can’t pick them to win on the road against a quality foe.
Prediction: Missouri 24, Kentucky 20
John Morgan Francis
The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off an ugly home win over the struggling Vanderbilt Commodores. With quarterback Terry Wilson seeming to be lost in the pocket, head coach Mark Stoops hinted that his other QBs on the roster may see the field in Saturday’s contest at the Missouri Tigers.
Led by Drew Lock, the Tigers boast one of the better passing attacks in the Southeastern Conference. Their defense, however, has been proven to be suspect so far this season.
Though Kentucky hasn’t displayed much threat through the air, their ground game is second to none in the SEC. Benny Snell Jr. has carried the Wildcats to a 6-1 record while being strongly assisted by the nation’s second-best scoring defense.
Unlike past years in the Stoops’ era, Josh Allen and company provide an intimidation on the field that is unlike any the Big Blue Nation has ever witnessed. In fact, no opponent of Kentucky has reached 21 points yet this season.
Despite inconsistencies at both kicker & quarterback, the Wildcats’ rushing attack and defense appear to have what it takes for an outright win.
Final Score: Kentucky 27, Missouri 20
Another week, another important game for the Wildcats. Mizzou has one of the best offenses and arguably the second best quarterback in the conference with Drew Lock. Their rush defense is solid, holding Georgia in place and making the Dawgs beat them through the air. But that’s exactly where the Tigers struggle; the passing defense. For Kentucky to go to Columbia and win, I think we are going to have to see the passing game come alive. Sure, Kentucky could win by just keeping it on the ground, but for a solid rush defense such as Mizzou, passing the ball well would open the holes tremendously.
Where I am most confident is Kentucky’s defense. But, they’re also going to have their work cut out for them. Kentucky has yet to allow more than 20 points in a game all season and Mizzou just put up 65 points on Memphis, so something is going to have to give.
For anybody nationally to truly care about the Kentucky-UGA game next weekend, Kentucky needs to win this game. I think the passing game will still struggle, but it will be an improvement from what we have seen. I think Benny gets his usual work as well, and I am taking the Cats in a close one.
Prediction: Kentucky beats Missouri, 24-21
It should be a dandy on Saturday when No. 12 Kentucky travels to Columbia to take on the Missouri Tigers. One of the nation’s best offenses, led by a top-five quarterback in the nation in Drew Lock, the Tigers are set to take on one of the best defenses, led by a top-five defensive player in the country in Josh Allen.
If Kentucky wants to win this game they’re going to need better quarterback play from Terry Wilson or someone else. They are also going to need to knock down their field goal opportunities because to beat Missouri you will need to score with them.
The Tigers defense ranks an embarrassing 122nd out of 128 in passing yards per game. Against the run, however, Mizzou ranks a respectable 35th best in the country. There’s no doubt their goal is going to be to take away Benny Snell and force the Cats to throw. To win this game Kentucky will need to prove they are not one dimensional. I truly believe they will this weekend and I think it may just be Gunnar Hoak who leads the way. The Kentucky defense all year long has put up clinics against respectable offensives thus, I don’t see that stopping even against Drew Lock. Expect this one to have a little more points than the last few weeks but with Kentucky knowing they can’t afford a loss heading into their date with Georgia next week expect the Cats to come out roaring.
Prediction: Kentucky 31 Missouri 27
This is a huge game for the Wildcats. Aside from next week’s contest against Georgia, UK should be favored in every game remaining on their schedule. If Kentucky can outlast Missouri, the Cats have a great chance to finish with 10 wins or better.
There’s no way we don’t see Gunnar Hoak this Saturday. Mark Stoops cannot continue to trot out Terry Wilson if he continues to play the way he did over Kentucky’s last two games. I’m not saying Wilson should be benched, but Stoops owes it to this team, especially given how well the defense has played, to put in the quarterback that gives the Cats the best chance to win.
This game scares me a bit. Missouri can put up some points, however, their defense leaks like a sieve. Opponents average better than 30 points against the Tigers and expect the Cats to do the same. Look for a high scoring game.
Prediction: Kentucky 33 Missouri 28
The #12 Kentucky Wildcats are heading into Columbia, Missouri for a match-up against a strong Missouri Tiger offense. Coming off a cold slugfest and near upset against Vanderbilt at home, the Wildcats need a more convincing win to get back on track. Had it not been for Kentucky’s late game drive where Benny Snell Jr. rushed for 10 of the 12 plays and scored the winning touchdown, we could be looking at a completely different scenario.
Terry Wilson is presently struggling. Although he rushed 12 times for 91 yards, he only completed 3-9 passes for 18 yards. Going against an underrated QB like Drew Lock, Wilson will have to win or at least be close in that match-up. Speaking of the aforementioned Lock, Kentucky’s defense will have to step up against a QB who is nearing 2,000 yards on the season and an offense that’s averaging nearly 40.
All in all, I think Kentucky will get a good win before their big match-up against Georgia next weekend. With this win, I see Kentucky jumping into the Top-10 and putting even more at stake for when they face the Bulldogs.
Prediction” Kentucky 27, Missouri 17
Kentucky heads to Columbia as an underdog and with a sputtering offense. Playing on the road will be challenging both physically and mentally. But Kentucky is 6-1 for a reason. Scoring points will be mandatory in this game because slowing down Drew Lock and the Tigers isn’t going to be an easy task. Missouri is averaging over 38 points per game, so UK will rely on their defense more than ever. Only scoring 14 points like last week will result in defeat.
I have faith that the magical season continues.
Prediction: Kentucky 31, Missouri 27
Two starting quarterbacks moving in the opposite direction. That’s where we find ourselves as Missouri’s Drew Lock threw for 350 yards and four touchdowns in a win over Memphis last week, while UK starter (for now) Terry Wilson struggled with a woeful 3-for-9 for 18 yards, including two huge turnovers that could have spelled disaster for the Cats.
There’s already talk about playing “multiple quarterbacks” on Saturday as it’s no secret that the Cats are a one-dimensional offense that puts way too much pressure on Benny Snell. I think giving Gunnar Hoak a shot on the road is a bold move that just might pay off in a big way. If Wilson (or Hoak) can throw the ball down field with any success, UK could escape with a signature win this season.
The UK defense will also get a big test on Saturday as Lock is third in the SEC in passing yards (1,979) and tied for second in touchdowns (16). He’s only been sacked eight times so the UK defense will have to get pressure up front to keep things close. I look for Coach Mark Stoops to find the right balance on Saturday with Wilson and Hoak both throwing touchdown passes - one of which just might be the game winner.
Prediction: Kentucky 21, Missouri 20
Kentucky managed to handle business last Saturday against Vandy in a rather sloppy looking game offensively. However, their defense once again was outstanding holding Vanderbilt to only 7 points. I believe that Wilson along with Snell will have a bounce back game this weekend at Missouri and I think that their defense will be the same thing we see week in and week out.
I think it will be a battle and it will be a challenge to stop Mizzou’s talented quarterback but I believe that the Wildcats have the tools to do that. Kentucky needs this win to move on to 7-1 and to have a shot to battle Georgia the following week for the SEC East.
I think you see a fairly low scoring game and that Kentucky gets the victory
Prediction: Kentucky 27, Missouri 21
Missouri presents a unique challenge for Kentucky. The Tigers are led by preseason Heisman candidate and future first round draft pick Drew Lock. Lock has been impressive over the years and continues to lead this explosive offense.
While many have labeled this as a “down” year for Lock, he is still third in the SEC in passing yards (1,979) and second in passing touchdowns (16). But he’s also struggled to keep the ball safe. He has the third most interceptions in the SEC with six.
However, while Lock has struggled against SEC competition, the Tiger ground game has quietly put up solid numbers. Mizzou has two top 15 rushers in the SEC in RBs Larry Rountree III (549) and Damarea Crockett (417). Lock gets all the credit, but these Mizzou RBs are dangerous.
A big reason for Lock’s decline in SEC play is because of the loss of star WR Emanuel Hall. Hall ranks 10th in the SEC in receiving yards (430)...and he’s only played in three games. That’s not a typo. The senior wideout is a stud. He’s questionable to play Saturday after rejoining the team earlier this week, but the Cats need to be prepared for him.
And finally, Mizzou’s defense is the worst Kentucky has faced this year, as they rank 12th in the SEC in scoring defense and 13th in yards per play defense. Playing a defense like this couldn’t come at a better time as the Kentucky offense has been nonexistent the last 10 quarters. The only problem is the Tigers are stout against the run. Only one team has reached 200 yards rushing and no one has averaged more than 4.7 yards per carry. The pass is the Tigers’ kryptonite, so the Kentucky QB(s) better come to play.
The way the Cats’ offense has struggled of late makes me very nervous for this game. I believe in the defense and I believe they won’t let Mizzou score like they do on every other team, but the offense has to put up some points.
The good news is that in every year since Eddie Gran has been the offensive coordinator, UK’s points per game have increased in the final five games of the season. In 2016, it went from 26.7 ppg in the first seven games to 37 ppg in the last five. In 2017, it went from 24.6 ppg to 27.4 ppg. If we see another jump like years past, the Cats will come out on top.
Prediction: Kentucky 28 Missouri 24
The Cats have a chance this weekend to continue their incredible season and get a big win on the road at Missouri and give fans a week of celebration as well as a week of getting ready for the biggest game for this program in many years.
If the Cats are going to come back to Lexington with a win the offense must be leaps and bounds better than it has been the last two weeks and the defense must continue to play at the extremely high level that it has played at all season.
This isn’t a game to overlook and just consider a win and if the offense comes out like it did against Vanderbilt it will be tough to pull out the win. However, I think the offensive slump will end and the Cats will get back on track and come away with another SEC win.
Prediction: Kentucky 27, Missouri 17
Kentucky’s defense has been incredible this season. But on Saturday they will face their toughest challenge in Missouri and Drew Lock. Aside from the Alabama game, they have scored at least 29 points in every game. I don’t know if they get to 29 this week, but I do believe they will score more against Kentucky than anyone else has.
So the big question is whether or not Kentucky can score enough. Missouri’s defense is almost as bad as their offense is good. But with Kentucky’s offense sputtering, will that translate to points on the board?
I do not have a great feeling about this game. Mark Stoops is talking about playing multiple quarterbacks, and with so much uncertainty I am not confident that the Wildcats can keep up with Missouri no matter how great the defense plays.
Prediction: Missouri 27, Kentucky 20