SEC Upset Special: Kentucky vs. Missouri
This week was tough for me because I think Florida has a better chance at upsetting Georgia than people think, but ultimately the one team I like more than them is Kentucky. The Wildcats—a 6-point underdog—will travel to Missouri to take on the Tigers in an important division matchup.
I think Kentucky will pull the upset, and at the least win with the points, and here’s why.
Missouri Really Has No Balance Offensively
Last season in their SEC Championship run, the Tigers were very good on the ground and through the air. This year has been a different story, and quarterback Maty Mauk has struggled to make plays in big games.
The Tigers are only averaging 171.0 yards per game passing, which is 113th in the nation. The rushing attack with Hansbrough and Murphy is a little better, but they still only come out at 69th in the country in that category.
Mauk really struggled against Georgia a few weeks ago, and he also looked pretty bad against South Carolina and Florida, two games Missouri won with its defense.
The defense has been able to win games for them, but will it be enough to cover up the offensive mistakes once again?
What Kentucky Brings Offensively
The Wildcats are an up-and-coming team under defensive-minded coach Mark Stoops, but the offense has been the attention-getter around Lexington this season.
Patrick Towles has provided stability at quarterback, but this road contest will be a big test for him. If he is able to play well—and I think he will—then Kentucky will definitely have a shot at winning this game.
He has been efficient this season—with a completion percentage of 60.1 percent and a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 12-4—and he can also make plays with his legs. Against Mississippi State last week, the sophomore ran for 76 yards and two touchdowns.
The two running backs (Jojo Kemp, Braylon Heard) have been solid—both averaging at least 5.0 yards per carry—but it may be tough getting too much on the ground against this Missouri front.
The ultimate x-factor will be how well Towles plays overall and if he can extend plays with his legs.
Kentucky has played well in a couple of losses, and Missouri has played poorly in a couple of wins, so the overall records are a little misleading when you just try to compare those.
This Kentucky team has momentum right now, after giving Mississippi State all it could handle this past weekend.
Another thing worth noting is that Missouri has lost two of its games at home this year, one to Indiana and another in a beatdown at the hands of Georgia.
When I preview this game I see two closely-matched teams and I think Missouri shouldn’t be almost a touchdown favorite, given the way they have played at home.
Kentucky will do some good things defensively in this game, especially with the way Mauk has played of late, and their offense can make enough plays to stay in it. Towles is still a young guy, but he doesn’t make many mistakes, and I like his ability to extend plays with his legs.
Kentucky 24, Missouri 20
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