Scout.com/Jeff Drummond

Previewing the Kentucky Wildcats' matchup with the Missouri Tigers

Everything you need to know about Kentucky's matchup with Missouri on Saturday in Columbia, Mo. It's a huge game for the Wildcats, who are looking to extend their winning streak to three games and move to within one victory of bowl eligibility.

KENTUCKY vs. MISSOURI

WHEN: Saturday, Oct. 29, Noon ET

WHERE: Memorial Stadium (71,168) Columbia, Mo.

TV: SEC Network

RECORDS: Kentucky (4-3, 3-2 SEC); Missouri (2-5, 1-2 SEC)

COACHES: Kentucky - Mark Stoops (4th year, 16-27, 1-2 vs UM); Missouri - Barry Odom (1st year, 2-5, 0-0 vs UK)

RANKINGS: Kentucky NR; Missouri NR

LAST GAME: Kentucky defeated Mississippi State 40-38 last week in Lexington; Missouri lost 51-45 last week at home to Middle Tennessee State.

LINE: Missouri -6

SERIES RECORD: Tied 3-3

BIG BLUE KEYS TO THE GAME:

When Kentucky has the ball… It's a Catch 22 type of game for the Cats. On the one hand, UK has to be licking its chops after watching Missouri surrender 51 points and 595 yards of total offense to Middle Tennessee State last week. On the other, the Cats realize that the Tigers' offense is extremely potent, and they don't want to expose their defense to the 100-plus snaps that are common for Mizzou. Look for UK offensive coordinator Eddie Gran to stress ball control and methodical drives, for the most part, while picking his spots for big plays. Boom Williams and Benny Snell should get a ton of carries against a Mizzou defense that ranks 11th (218.9 ypg) in the SEC against the run. With only 11 sacks on the season, the Tigers don't feature the type of pass-rushers that they've unleashed on the Cats in the past. As a result, they're allowing opponents to convert at 42 percent on third down for the season. UK quarterback Stephen Johnson should have some opportunities to hook up with big-play wideouts Jeff Badet and Garrett Johnson. Mizzou, however, is tied for the conference lead with 10 interceptions, including three by cornerback Aarion Penton (No. 11, 5-10, 190, Jr.), who also has eight pass break-ups to his credit. The Tigers will be playing without their leading tackler on the season, linebacker Michael Scherer, who suffered an ACL tear in last week's loss.

When Missouri has the ball…  The Tigers like to play as fast as anyone in the country. They had a whopping 112 snaps and 629 yards of total offense in last week's loss to the Blue Raiders. Kentucky's defensive staff has stressed the importance of getting lined up properly and ready for the breakneck pace. The Cats also plan to rotate more players in and out of the game in order to stay fresh late in what is expected to be a close game. Mizzou leads the SEC at 505 yards per game, and it's a balanced attack with quarterback Drew Lock (No. 3, 6-4, 220, Soph.) ranking second in the league behind only Chad Kelly of Ole Miss at 285 yards passing per game, and running back Damarea Crockett (No. 16, 5-11, 220, Fr.) ranking 10th at 78.0 yards per game. Wide receiver J'Mon Moore (No. 6, 6-3, 205, Jr.) is the top pass-catching threat at 30 receptions for 539 yards and six touchdowns. He could be an entertaining matchup for both of UK's tall corners, Derrick Baity and Chris Westry. Mizzou typically gets the ball out quickly, making Lock extremely difficult to sack. Opponents have only five sacks against the Tigers in seven games this season, the lowest figure in the SEC.

MILESTONE WATCH:

Kentucky junior running back Boom Williams has 1,980 career yards and needs 126 to pass Artose Pinner (1999-2002) for seventh on the school's all-time rushing list. ...  UK senior wide receiver Ryan Timmons has 1,137 career yards and needs 64 to pass Stevie Johnson (2006-07) for 22nd on the school's all-time receiving list. ... UK freshman running back Benny Snell needs just one rushing touchdown to tie Randall Cobb for the school's frosh record of seven in a season.

ON THIS DAY IN UK HISTORY:

Kentucky defeated Mississippi State 13-7 on this date in 2005. With quarterback Andre Woodson battling the flu, the Cats leaned on running backs Rafael Little and Arliss Beach to carry the offensive load. Little rushed 24 times for 114 yards, caught four passes for 44 yards, and added 89 yards on six punt returns. Beach had 81 yards rushing on 14 carries. 

NOTES:

  • Kentucky is seeking its first four-win SEC campaign since 2006 under head coach Rich Brooks.
  • UK is one of the least-penalized teams in the SEC at 42.0 yards per game; Mizzou is the second-most penalized team in the SEC at 62.1 yards per game.
  • The Cats have converted only three of 28 third downs in their previous two trips to Columbia since the Tigers joined the SEC.
  • Mizzou is even on the season in turnover margin with 14 gained and 14 lost; UK is minus-9 on the season with nine gained and 18 lost.
  • Freshman running back Benny Snell has the most rushing yards (469) of any UK player in his first seven career games since Moe Williams (597) in 1993.

AW PREDICTION:

Kentucky 37, Missouri 33


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