Kentucky (5-4, 2-4 SEC) managed only 22 offensive snaps in a sloppy first half in which it fell behind 14-3, a margin that felt much wider by the way the Cats were performing.
The UK defense stiffened in the second half, forcing four 3-and-outs and keeping the Tigers out of the end zone, but the typically high-powered offense did not step up its game. The Cats did not record a third-down conversion until the final 49 seconds of the third quarter.
The fourth quarter saw Kentucky pull within 20-10 on a Patrick Towles-to-Javess Blue 1-yard touchdown pass, and the Cats recovered the ensuing onside kick with 3:26 to play, but the UK staff elected to bypass a 39-yard field goal attempt with 1:54 remaining in favor of a 4th-and-2 attempt that failed.
It was that kind of day for the Cats, who also dropped a potential "Pick-6" interception and committed nine penalties for 65 yards.
With the win, Missouri (7-2, 4-1 SEC) may have put itself in the driver’s seat for a second consecutive East Division title. Dual-threat quarterback Maty Mauk led the Tigers with 164 yards and two touchdown passes, both to receiver Bud Sasser, while also rushing for 75 yards rushing on 14 carries in perhaps his best all-around effort of the season.
Andrew Baggett kicked field goals from 41 and 21 yards to round out the Tigers’ scoring.
In this AllWildcats "Rapid Recap" feature, we touch on some of the day's highlights:
WHAT WENT WRONG: It may be easier to list what went right. It would be a short list. But if you had to put the game in a nutshell, Kentucky’s offensive line was dominated by the Missouri defensive front. Towles had one of his worst days as UK’s starting quarterback, completing just 19 of 37 passes for 158 yards. In his defense, he rarely had time to set his feet and throw down the field, but he was not as accurate, either, as we’ve seen him most of the season.
KEY MOMENT: Missouri’s first score of the day, with 12:56 remaining in the second quarter, came on a drive in which Mauk ran for nine yards on 3rd-and-5 and for 15 yards on 3rd and 7. Kentucky had no answer for his improvisational runs, making third-down conversions look easy for the Tigers while the Cats could not buy one against a spirited defensive effort by Mizzou.
STAT OF THE DAY: A Mizzou defense that entered the game with pedestrian defensive numbers in the SEC rankings held UK to 258 yards and 10 points. Earlier this season, Indiana put 493 yards and 31 points up against the Tigers.
QUOTABLE: "They won the one-on-ones. They beat us. Give them credit. They were tougher, mentally stronger, had a better plan... the whole deal." - UK head coach Mark Stoops
UP NEXT: The opportunity to get eligible continues to shrink for a UK team that opened the season 5-1. The Georgia Bulldogs come to Lexington next Saturday, and will be smarting from a devastating 38-20 loss to rival Florida that may have cost them the East title.