Schedule change, quick turnaround: UK football’s match-up with Mizzou


The Missouri offense lines up against the Kentucky defense during the game against Missouri on Saturday, Oct. 26, 2019, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. Kentucky won 29-7. Photo by Jordan Prather | Staff

Barkley Truax

Coming off a historic win over Tennessee last week, Kentucky will travel to Columbia to play the Missouri Tigers. The game is set to kick off at 4 p.m. at Faurot Field in Colombia, Missouri and will air on the SEC Network.

UK’s match-up with the Tigers was originally scheduled for Oct. 31, but due to COVID-19 concerns throughout the SEC, two games were canceled, including the planned game between Vanderbilt and now-opponent Missouri. Conference officials switched the schedules to maintain a 10-game season for those teams with COVID-19 outbreaks.

Kentucky last faced Mizzou in October of 2019 at Kroger Field, a game that resulted in a UK win. Quarterbacked by Lynn Bowden, Jr., the Wildcats beat Mizzou 29 – 7 in a memorably rainy setting.

UK is 2 – 2 so far this season and Mizzou is 1 – 2, having lost to Alabama and UT in their first two games. While Missouri was sitting at home last week, Kentucky football was down in Neyland Stadium defeating the Tennessee Volunteers 34 – 7, the Wildcats first win in Knoxville since 1984 and first win against the Volunteers since 2017.

Defense was the story of the game for Kentucky in each of their last two outings against Mississippi State and Tennessee. The Wildcats tallied nine interceptions, six against UT, and allowed only one touchdown in the past two games – a combination that has given offense a buffer to take time to find their rhythm.

Kentucky’s defensive prowess will be put to the test against Missouri, who are coming off a huge upset win against LSU two weeks ago.

Missouri’s quarterback Connor Bazelak had a career-defining performance against LSU, throw-ing the football for 406 yards (29/34) and four touchdowns. Missouri had 586 yards total.

With Kentucky’s defense as hot as it is, and Missouri firing on all cylinders offensively, it’ll come down to whether or not Kentucky can create turnovers, much like the past two games.

Offensively, Kentucky hasn’t had the easiest time making plays the past two weeks. Luckily for the Wildcats, Missouri gave up 479 total yards and 41 points against the defending national champion, the LSU Tigers.

Missouri did a great job stopping the run against LSU, allowing only 49 yards (2.5 per carry) on the ground, but allowed 430 yards and four touchdowns through the air.

For Kentucky, this means an opportunity to get back on track offensively. The defense has bailed them out the past two weeks and it’s time the offense repaid the favor.

Against Ole Miss, Kentucky was able to rush for 408 yards. In the two games since, the Wildcats have rushed for 271 yards. Terry Wilson threw for 239 yards in the season opener against Auburn; in the past two games, Kentucky has 174 passing yards total.

However, Kentucky’s offense isn’t producing points off their offensive gains. But the second half against Tennessee shone a light on the hope of offensive consistency for the Wildcats.

Kentucky became more balanced distributing the football between the pass and rush and stringing together long drives that gassed the Volunteer defense and ended in the end zone.

Long, meticulous offensive drives are the key for Kentucky in this matchup. Controlling time of possession is important, not only for keeping the Missouri offense off the field, but to get as many repetitions as possible for an offense that has been shaky in the past two weeks.