Wildcats look to be the superior Cats against the Tigers in Mizzou


Jack Weaver

Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) runs towards the end zone during the Kentucky vs. Missouri football game on Saturday, Sept. 11, 2021, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky. UK won 35-28. Photo by Jack Weaver | Staff

Samantha Money, Asst. Sports Editor

Kentucky football is desperate for a bounce-back win against Missouri after a tough 44-6 loss to No. 3 Tennessee this past weekend.

The Cats unraveled at the hands of the Vols, who dominated the field and stifled any attempt from the Cats to gain momentum.

Tennessee almost doubled the total number of interceptions this season for a frazzled Will Levis, who left the field with four sacks and three interceptions.

While Kentucky looked for open chances with Chris Rodriguez Jr. and had some defensive successes, the Cats’ performance against the Vols is arguably their worst of the season.

Kentucky has already experienced two losses this season against Ole Miss and South Carolina, but the one to Tennessee shows just how badly the Cats need to find their footing again if they want a chance to beat Missouri.

Just a few short weeks ago a matchup between Missouri and Kentucky would have had the Cats predicted to win confidently, but now ESPN analytics leans just 50.8% in Kentucky’s favor, the equivalent of a toss-up.

Missouri will be playing the Cats with confidence after upsetting No. 25 South Carolina last weekend, the same team that also upset Kentucky last month.

Furthermore, the Tigers, despite their 4-4 overall record this season, have come close to getting the better of several notable teams.
Missouri led No.1 Georgia 15-6 at the half just a few weeks ago, having the college football world thinking the biggest upset of the season was about to happen.

While the Bulldogs ultimately recovered and came back to win the game 26-22, Missouri still gave Georgia a real threat and solidified itself as a sleeping giant killer.

There’s no doubt Missouri knows how to feed into that confidence with the following game after Georgia seeing the Tigers come up just short again against the Florida Gators 24-17, but once again threatening to upset a favored opponent.

It’s fair to say that Missouri has not been one of the best ranked SEC teams this season, but its performance and near upsets prove it should not be underestimated.

Knowing that Missouri’s defense can hold strong, the Cats must step up their offensive game if they hope to escape Columbia with a win. Looking at the numbers, Levis has acquired 1,733 passing yards this season compared to the 1,652 from Missouri’s Brady Cook.

Despite the close numbers, Cook has only thrown half the touchdowns Levis has, but has less interceptions as well, a testament to the Tigers’ run-heavy offense.

Kentucky running back Rodriguez Jr., who was held to only 64 rushing yards against Tennessee, just slightly leads Missouri’s Cody Schrader with 459 rushing yards compared to Schrader’s 444 yards this season.

Despite that, Missouri does average nearly 40 more rushing yards per game than the Cats.

When it comes to how many points the offensive teams are putting up, Kentucky and Missouri are neck-and-neck with the Cats averaging 23.9 points and the Tigers right behind with 23.8 points per game.

The defenses of both teams are strong, but Kentucky at its peak defensively is more than capable of defeating this team.

With the game being the last on the road for the Cats, a win is crucial for Kentucky’s regular season to not be seen as a total loss amongst the waves of disappointment fans already feel.

Kentucky and Missouri are set to kick off on Saturday, Nov. 5, at noon EST inside Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Missouri, with the game airing live on the SEC Network.