Missouri-Kentucky football preview

01/02/2014 11:42 AM

01/02/2014 11:42 AM

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. 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 TBA

KENTUCKY (2-6, 0-4 SEC)
Date Opponent Result/time
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
Saturday Missouri 11 a.m.
Nov. 16 at Vanderbilt 11:21 a.m.
Nov. 23 at Georgia TBA
Nov. 30 Tennessee TBA

MISSOURI OFFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR 15 Dorial Green-Beckham 6-6 225 So.
WR 2 L’Damian Washington 6-4 205 Sr.
LT 68 Justin Britt 6-6 315 Sr.
LG 61 Max Copeland 6-3 300 Sr.
C 77 Evan Boehm 6-3 315 So.
RG 60 Connor McGovern 6-4 310 So.
RT 65 Mitch Morse 6-6 305 Jr.
TE 81 Eric Waters 6-5 245 Sr.
WR 85 Marcus Lucas 6-5 220 Sr.
QB 7 Maty Mauk 6-0 200 Fr.
TB 20 Henry Josey 5-10 190 Jr.
K 99 Andrew Baggett 6-1 215 So.

MISSOURI DEFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE 52 Michael Sam 6-2 255 Sr.
DT 89 Matt Hoch 6-5 295 Jr.
NG 96 Lucas Vincent 6-2 305 Jr.
DE 47 Kony Ealy 6-5 275 Jr.
LB 10 Kentrell Brothers 6-1 240 So.
LB 48 Andrew Wilson 6-3 240 Sr.
LB 8 Donovan Bonner 6-1 245 Sr.
CB 31 E.J. Gaines 5-11 195 Sr.
FS 17 Matt White 6-0 195 Sr.
SS 9 Braylon Webb 6-0 205 Jr.
CB 7 Randy Ponder 5-10 195 Sr.
P 92 Christian Brinser 6-2 200 Jr.

KENTUCKY OFFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
WR 9 Demarco Robinson 5-10 158 Jr.
LT 77 Darrian Miller 6-5 284 Jr.
LG 75 Zach West 6-4 308 So.
C 72 Jon Toth 6-5 285 Fr.
RG 79 Kevin Mitchell 6-6 289 Sr.
RT 70 Jordan Swindle 6-7 290 So.
TE 86 Jordan Aumiller 6-4 232 Sr.
WR 8 Javess Blue 6-0 180 Jr.
WR 23 Daryl Collins 5-11 205 So.
QB 2 Jalen Whitlow 6-2 220 So.
RB 4 Raymond Sanders 5-8 187 Sr.
K 88 Joe Mansour 6-2 189 Sr.

KENTUCKY DEFENSE
P No. Player Ht. Wt. Yr.
DE 2 Alvin Dupree 6-4 252 Jr.
DT 99 Donte Rumph 6-3 320 Sr.
DT 97 Mister Cobble 6-0 338 Sr.
DE 94 Za’Darius Smith 6-6 254 Jr.
LB 45 Josh Forrest 6-3 233 So.
LB 40 Avery Williamson 6-1 238 Sr.
LB 41 TraVaughn Paschal 6-4 242 Jr.
CB 21 Nate Willis 6-0 180 Jr.
S 5 Ashely Lowery 6-1 211 Jr.
S 28 Eric Dixon 5-11 187 Jr.
CB 3 Fred Tiller 6-0 171 So.
P 9 Landon Foster 6-1 208 So.

Tod Palmer, tpalmer@kcstar.com

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