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
Whats 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.
Missouri dominates on both sides of the ball. The Tigers offense hasnt 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.
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. Its 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 weeks 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 wont 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 ZaDarius Smith each have recorded 5 1/2 sacks this season.
Missouris offensive line vs. Kentuckys 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 Palmers 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 shouldnt need him to cruise.
MISSOURI (8-1, 4-1 SEC)
|Aug. 31||Murray State||W, 58-14|
|Sept. 7||Toledo||W, 38-23|
|Sept. 21||at Indiana||W, 45-28|
|Sept. 28||Arkansas State||W, 41-19|
|Oct. 5||at Vanderbilt||W, 51-28|
|Oct. 12||at Georgia||W, 41-26|
|Oct. 19||Florida||W, 36-17|
|Oct. 26||South Carolina||L, 27-24 (2OT)|
|Nov. 2||Tennessee||W, 31-3|
|Saturday||at Kentucky||11 a.m.|
|Nov. 23||at Mississippi||TBA|
|Nov. 30||Texas A&M||TBA|
KENTUCKY (2-6, 0-4 SEC)
|Aug. 31||vs. Western Kentucky||L, 35-26|
|Sept. 7||Miami (Ohio)||W, 41-7|
|Sept. 14||Louisville||L, 27-13|
|Sept. 28||Florida||L, 24-7|
|Oct. 5||at South Carolina||L, 35-28|
|Oct. 12||Alabama||L, 48-7|
|Oct. 24||at Mississippi State||L, 28-22|
|Nov. 2||Alabama State||W, 48-14|
|Nov. 16||at Vanderbilt||11:21 a.m.|
|Nov. 23||at Georgia||TBA|
Tod Palmer, email@example.com