University of Missouri

Missouri-Kentucky football preview

Updated: 2014-01-02T17:42:53Z

When/where: 11 a.m. Saturday at Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Ky.

TV/radio: ESPNU; KMBZ (980 AM, 98.1 FM)

The series: Kentucky leads 2-1

The line: Missouri by 14 1/2

What’s at stake

Missouri holds a one-game lead in the loss column in the Southeastern Conference East Division, so this would be a bad time for a hiccup. The Tigers are heavy favorites, and rightfully so, but Missouri must win with style rather than grind out a road victory to impress voters. The Tigers are strong in the computer rankings, but hopes for a BCS title game berth depend on the human polls.

Cheers if …

Missouri dominates on both sides of the ball. The Tigers’ offense hasn’t dropped off much since senior James Franklin was injured in the fourth quarter at Georgia. Led by redshirt freshman Maty Mauk, Missouri still averages 500 yards per game on offense and 40.6 points. It should be another big night and the defense should aim for a shutout.

Jeers if …

Kentucky pushes Missouri deep into the second half. The Wildcats might be winless in SEC play, but first-year coach Mark Stoops’ squad lost by a touchdown or less at South Carolina and Mississippi State. Kentucky also played Florida and Louisville tough at home. It’s a prideful program that would love to knock off a top-10 team.

Three things about Kentucky

1 The Wildcats are hurting at wide receiver. Freshman Alexander Montgomery, who was third in receptions (16), tore his ACL during last week’s win against Alabama State, while another freshman, Ryan Timmons, who was second on Kentucky in receptions (27) and yards (295), is nursing a sprained ankle and probably won’t suit up either.

2 The Wildcats have seven plays of 20 yards or more in four SEC games and are worst in the league in third-down conversion percentage (28.6) and opponent third-down conversion percentage (45.0). For all those struggles, Kentucky has only committed six turnovers and boasts a plus-three turnover margin.

3 Senior linebacker Avery Williamson is tied for second in the SEC with 76 tackles, including four games with 10 or more. Meanwhile, junior defensive ends Alvin Dupree and Za’Darius Smith each have recorded 5 1/2 sacks this season.

Key matchup

Missouri’s offensive line vs. Kentucky’s defensive line: The Wildcats are tied for sixth in the SEC in sacks with South Carolina (18) and have more than Florida (13) and Alabama (11). Protecting Mauk (or Franklin, if he plays) will be critical. The Tigers also should be imposing in the run game as they were against Tennessee. Do that, and Missouri improves to 9-1.

Tod Palmer’s pick: Missouri, 45-10

Missouri is the better football team and should be eager to pile up some big numbers against a struggling Kentucky program as it heads into the bye week. If James Franklin is cleared to play and gets a chance to knock some of the rust off, so much the better. But the Tigers shouldn’t need him to cruise.

MISSOURI (8-1, 4-1 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31Murray StateW, 58-14
Sept. 7ToledoW, 38-23
Sept. 21at IndianaW, 45-28
Sept. 28Arkansas StateW, 41-19
Oct. 5at VanderbiltW, 51-28
Oct. 12at GeorgiaW, 41-26
Oct. 19FloridaW, 36-17
Oct. 26South CarolinaL, 27-24 (2OT)
Nov. 2TennesseeW, 31-3
Saturdayat Kentucky11 a.m.
Nov. 23at MississippiTBA
Nov. 30Texas A&MTBA

KENTUCKY (2-6, 0-4 SEC)

Date Opponent Result/time
Aug. 31vs. Western KentuckyL, 35-26
Sept. 7Miami (Ohio)W, 41-7
Sept. 14LouisvilleL, 27-13
Sept. 28FloridaL, 24-7
Oct. 5at South CarolinaL, 35-28
Oct. 12AlabamaL, 48-7
Oct. 24at Mississippi StateL, 28-22
Nov. 2Alabama StateW, 48-14
SaturdayMissouri11 a.m.
Nov. 16at Vanderbilt11:21 a.m.
Nov. 23at GeorgiaTBA
Nov. 30TennesseeTBA

MISSOURI OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR15Dorial Green-Beckham6-6225So.
WR2L’Damian Washington6-4205Sr.
LT68Justin Britt6-6315Sr.
LG61Max Copeland6-3300Sr.
C77Evan Boehm6-3315So.
RG60Connor McGovern6-4310So.
RT65Mitch Morse6-6305Jr.
TE81Eric Waters6-5245Sr.
WR85Marcus Lucas6-5220Sr.
QB7Maty Mauk6-0200Fr.
TB20Henry Josey5-10190Jr.
K99Andrew Baggett6-1215So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE52Michael Sam6-2255Sr.
DT89Matt Hoch6-5295Jr.
NG96Lucas Vincent6-2305Jr.
DE47Kony Ealy6-5275Jr.
LB10Kentrell Brothers6-1240So.
LB48Andrew Wilson6-3240Sr.
LB8Donovan Bonner6-1245Sr.
CB31E.J. Gaines5-11195Sr.
FS17Matt White6-0195Sr.
SS9Braylon Webb6-0205Jr.
CB7Randy Ponder5-10195Sr.
P92Christian Brinser6-2200Jr.

KENTUCKY OFFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR9Demarco Robinson5-10158Jr.
LT77Darrian Miller6-5284Jr.
LG75Zach West6-4308So.
C72Jon Toth6-5285Fr.
RG79Kevin Mitchell6-6289Sr.
RT70Jordan Swindle6-7290So.
TE86Jordan Aumiller6-4232Sr.
WR8Javess Blue6-0180Jr.
WR23Daryl Collins5-11205So.
QB2Jalen Whitlow6-2220So.
RB4Raymond Sanders5-8187Sr.
K88Joe Mansour6-2189Sr.

KENTUCKY DEFENSE

P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE2Alvin Dupree6-4252Jr.
DT99Donte Rumph6-3320Sr.
DT97Mister Cobble6-0338Sr.
DE94Za’Darius Smith6-6254Jr.
LB45Josh Forrest6-3233So.
LB40Avery Williamson6-1238Sr.
LB41TraVaughn Paschal6-4242Jr.
CB21Nate Willis6-0180Jr.
S5Ashely Lowery6-1211Jr.
S28Eric Dixon5-11187Jr.
CB3Fred Tiller6-0171So.
P9Landon Foster6-1208So.

Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

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