It’s not going to be easy for Kentucky today.
Despite a 4-3 record and a winless 0-3 mark in SEC play, the Missouri Tigers are a very dangerous opponent. They have one of the best offenses in the country and a defense that ranks in the top third in the nation at stopping the run.
Here’s a look at Mizzou’s top four playmakers.
Quarterback Drew Lock: Drew Lock is considered by many to be a top-five quarterback in all of college football. The senior signal-caller was named first-team All-SEC in 2017 after a historic 44 touchdown pass season that broke the SEC single-season touchdown pass record and led all quarterbacks nationwide.
This season, Lock ranks third in the SEC in passing yards with 1,979 yards and ranks second in touchdown passes with 16. His one hiccup is interceptions. His six interceptions are second most in the SEC behind only Mississippi State’s Nick Fitzgerald and South Carolina’s Jake Bentley, who are tied for first with seven.
If the Cats can force Lock to make mistakes, they can have success, but that will be much easier said than done. As defensive coordinator Matt House said, Lock is a “special talent.”
Running Back Larry Rountree III: Larry Rountree III is the feature back of three talented Tiger runners (Rountree, Damarea Crockett and Tyler Badie) that all have run for more than 300 yards this season. Rountree has run for 549 yards and seven touchdowns this season.
In rushing yards, he ranks seventh in the SEC and in rushing touchdowns he is tied for fourth. Kentucky’s Kash Daniel described him as “a downhill runner who will try to run you over, but he can cut too.”
Kentucky will need to keep a focus on all three running backs, but keep in mind it all starts with Rountree.
Tight End Albert Okwuegbunam: There aren’t many opposing players quite as intimidating as Tight End Albert Okwuegbunam. Okwuegbunam is 6’5” and weighs 255 pounds and is better than most wide receivers. His 400 receiving yards is second-best in the SEC among tight ends and 12th best overall.
He is coming off a monster week against Memphis, where he racked in 159 receiving yards and three touchdowns. For a defense that already has to contain a solid running game, there is going to be extra pressure on Kentucky’s safeties and outside linebackers.
Okwuegbunam is someone who can play a significant role in deciding this football game and Kentucky needs to be ready to shut him down.
Linebacker Terez Hall: Terez Hall is the Tigers best pass rusher. He is tied for 8th in the SEC in sacks with three and leads all Mizzou defenders. He has also deflected a pass and forced a fumble. He can do a little bit of everything, and the Kentucky offensive line will need to be sure to keep a body on him.
Missouri is pretty loaded for a 4-3 team, and this game will be a huge test for a Kentucky team who will look to maintain the ability to control their destiny in the SEC East.