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Why Missouri is one of Kentucky’s most important games on the schedule

For the Cats to have a special season, winning on Saturday is a must.

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NCAA Football: Kentucky at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

The Missouri Tigers don’t quite have the appeal to Kentucky Wildcats fans as a matchup against Florida, Tennessee, or LSU, but make no mistake, Saturday night’s matchup against the Tigers might be the most consequential game on the schedule.

Since moving to the SEC, Kentucky has the upper-hand on Missouri. The Tigers took the first three matchups from 2012-2014, but Kentucky had won five in a row against Missouri before last year’s defeat in Columbia.

Of course, John Schlarman, the former Kentucky offensive line coach did not make the trip to that game as his battle with cancer took a turn for the worst, and ultimately, Schlarman passed away just a couple of weeks later.

The Wildcats put forth one of their most lethargic performances of the season in the Missouri game last year, managing just 10 points and 145 yards of offense.

Going into this game, the Cats almost certainly will be looking to avenge that loss from last season, which also included this moment that should be on the mind of each player and coach.

But take away the revenge factor from last year and this game plays a significant role in the SEC East standings. Most projections placed Kentucky or Missouri as the #3 team in the East, behind Georgia and Florida.

Getting this early win will give the winner an early leg up in that competition, and depending on what you think of Florida, could go a long way toward determining who is second in the division.

If Kentucky can win Saturday night and assumedly win next week when they host Chattanooga, the Cats would be 3-0 going to South Carolina in a big matchup with Florida and LSU up ahead.

For Kentucky to have a special season where 10-2 or 9-3 are on the table, beating Missouri becomes extra important. Going 10-2 in the regular season becomes extremely difficult without a win over Missouri, and while 9-3 would still be attainable, it becomes a much more likely scenario if you can start off 2-0.

On3 Sports has this game ranked as one of the top 10 biggest conference games of September. as well as one of the top 10 games of the weekend.

If you’ve listened to Mark Stoops and Vince Marrow this week, they know how crucial this game is for the season as a whole, as they’re urging fans to buy tickets and make some noise on Saturday night.

Tickets are still available. You can find tickets for Saturday night’s game here with tickets as low as $45.