Cats return to Kroger Field looking to topple Missouri


Lynn Bowden UK beats Missouri 15-14. Photo by Elliott Hess | UK Athletics

Kameron Roach

Kentucky Football (3-4, 1-4 SEC) looks to jump start their offense today against a Missouri Tigers team (5-2, 2-1 SEC) looking to rebound from an upset lost this past weekend against a Vanderbilt team that only has one SEC win. 

The Wildcats enter the game ranked 12th in total offense in SEC play with an average of 355 total yards per game. Head coach Mark Stoops is hoping to get back junior quarterback Sawyer Smith who has missed the past two games due to injury. Smith leads a Kentucky offense which is yielding only 167 passing yards per game.  The Cats’ offense, which is averaging only 20 points per game, could use a spark to help put more points on the scoreboard. 

On the other hand, the Tigers are ranked fourth in total offense in the SEC, having amassed 448 yards per game. Missouri is led by Clemson graduate transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant who currently ranks fourth in the SEC in total passing yards, pass completions and passing touchdowns with 1769, 130 and 13 each, respectively. Bryant has also accumulated 209 yards rushing yards for a high octane offense averaging 35 points per game.

The strength of the Kentucky offense is built around the rushing attack of its three headed monster of running backs Asim Rose and Kavoisey Smoke along with wide receiver Lynn Bowden. The trio has helped give the Cats the sixth-highest rushing yardage total in the SEC entering this week with 1,314 yards.     

The team from the “Show Me” state has an impressive ground attack of its own. Missouri is led by their own trio of runners which include running backs’ Larry Rountree III‘s 586 rushing yds and Tyler Badie‘s 311 rushing yards along with the signal caller Bryant. Rountree also leads the conference with a total of eight rushing touchdowns.

When it comes to spreading the ball around in the air, the Wildcats and Tigers are at the opposite end of the spectrum. Kentucky is ranked last in the conference in receiving with a total of 1,169 total receiving yards. Bowden leads the Wildcats with a total of 348 receiving yards.

On the contrary, Missouri is ranked fifth in the conference with a total of 1,789 receiving yards. Wide receivers Johnathon Johnson and Jonathan Nance each have 284 receiving yards this season. Tight end Albert Okwuegbunam completes the receiving corps with 250 receiving yards. 

Both teams find themselves performing at different levels on the defense side of the ball. The Cats are yielding a total of 182 rushing yards and 183 yards passing per game while allowing 23 points per game. Linebacker Jamar Watson leads the Cats with a total of four sacks, tied for sixth in the conference. Safety Yusuf Corker is tied for seventh in the conference in total tackles with 51.

Missouri is ranked seventh in the nation in total defense while allowing a total of 270 yards per game. The Tigers are allowing only 114 rushing yards and 156 passing yards per game while allowing 16.6 points per game. Linebacker Nick Bolton leads a stingy defense with a total of 54 tackles. Defensive lineman Kobie Whiteside leads the Tigers in sacks with a total of five.   

The Tigers are a 10.5 point favorite for the 7:30 pm kickoff that could prove to be a tough feat in front of the Kroger Field faithful. Kentucky currently has both a four-game winning streak against the Tigers and is 6-3 all-time against Missouri.