This Saturday will be another game in nasty weather. This factor could be huge when it comes to how this game is played by both teams. Missouri is a pass heavy offense under Kelly Bryant and that will be a lot harder to do in the poor conditions. The strength of schedule between the two teams is lopsided to say the least. Missouri is ranked 70th by teamrankings.com and Kentucky comes in at 29th. The best team they’ve played is arguably South Carolina and they won that game. They have also lost to Wyoming which will be a bowl team but they don’t play many tough opponents. Missouri is coming off a loss to Vandy which will more than likely end up as a 3-4 win team. That may light a fire for the Tigers but I think the lack of competition to this point makes them look like a tougher opponent than what they are. Vegas has them at a 10 point favorite right now but I’m going to go ahead and say that we will cover that spread!
Earlier this week reporters asked Kelly Bryant what he thought about Kentucky’s defense and this was his response:
The fact that he said “Take what the defense gives you” and the weather conditions I would expect a lot of short throws and runs with their running backs and Bryant as well. Larry Roundtree III comes in to this game with 115 carries and is averaging 5.1 yards a carry, very comparable to AJ Rose who is averaging 5 ypc on 91 carries. The Tigers have two main receivers that they will look to in the passing game. Jonathan Nance is now on his third D1 team after starting out his career at Southern Miss then after Junior College he signed with Arkansas. He visited Missouri last year when Kentucky came in and pulled off that great win and decided to commit to the Tigers and has played well with them this season. He leads Missouri in TD catches with 3 and is tied with Johnathon Johnson with 284 yards. Nance is more of a deep threat whereas Johnson will catch a lot of balls underneath. He leads the team in receptions and the fifth year receiver is moving closer and closer to the all-time receiving yardage record. He is currently 6th all-time on that list and will likely end up in 4th barring any huge games.
On defense Cale Garrett is out with a torn pectoral tendon. He was having an amazing year and was a leader on the defense. In his absence Nick Bolton has stepped up and is leading the team in tackles and is second in tackles for loss with 6. Kobie Whiteside is the name to remember when it comes to quarterback pressure. He has 5 sacks on the season and is tied for 3rd in the SEC in that category.
Kentucky will be looking at the weather when it decides on what to do for the quarterback position. Bowden seems like the right choice if the weather is nasty like it’s expected to be. I would still expect Smith to be in the game throughout to make Missouri honor the pass game while still running the ball with Rose and possibly Bowden on shovel passes and screens. If Smith is our guy, I would think that he’ll have a short leash due to his poor performance at South Carolina and Stoops comments on the fact they left him in there too long.
My prediction is the Kentucky runs the ball well with Bowden and Rose and we get the win at home to kick off a string of wins to end the season. Cats 24 – Tigers 14.