Of the ten Kentucky football wins in the 2018-19 season, the most improbable happened in Columbia, Missouri. A quick recap of what had to happen for UK to overcome a two-touchdown second half deficit:
- UK’s defense surrendered zero second half first downs.
- Lynn Bowden subbed himself into the game to score a punt return touchdown.
- Terry Wilson had to drive UK 80 yards into the end zone with 1:24 to play.
- A fade to Ahmad Wagner as the clock expired drew a pass interference penalty.
- Wilson connected with C.J. Conrad on an untimed down for the win.
Naturally, that loss left a bad taste in the mouths of Tiger fans. After winning the first three meetings, Missouri has now lost four straight to Kentucky. A team that returned a ton of talent from 2018 and added a few pretty pieces to the collection will be the SEC East’s preseason darling, even though they are currently appealing a one-year bowl ban by the NCAA.
Barry Odom kicked off SEC Media Days in its return to Hoover, Alabama. Enjoy the first installment of a series on UK’s 2019 opponents.
The Best Thing Barry Odom Said — Odom believes this is the best team he’s coached at Missouri.
There are a lot of questions around @MizzouFootball regarding NCAA Sanctions / the program's appeal
— College Sports on SiriusXM (@SXMCollege) July 15, 2019
The Best Thing Barry Odom Said (Out of Context) — “They took an opportunity when we were dealt some information from the NCAA.”
Coach Speak 101 — Few use more coaching cliches than Odom. “We over Me” is the corniest of the bunch.
Same Face, New Place — After leading a team into the CFB Playoffs, the next step for a quarterback is typically to the NFL. For Kelly Bryant, it was to Columbia. Formerly Deshaun Watson’s backup at Clemson, the heir apparent did not disappoint, taking the Tigers to the Playoff after an ACC Championship in 2017. Bryant lost the job four games later to future No. 1 overall draft pick Trevor Lawrence. He could have picked any school in the country to play one more year of football, but ultimately chose to trade in his purple stripes for black and gold.
“For me, it was like OK, I have one year, and I want to put myself in a position to be able to have a chance to get to the next level,” Bryant said. “I looked at Missouri, Coach (Derek) Dooley’s been at the Cowboys; he has pretty much the same offensive staff, the terminology that they’ve had. So, now having to learn a whole new offense at the pace they do in the NFL, I’m up for that challenge, see where I can be at the end of the day.”
Bryant was the only talented transfer the Tigers picked up from the portal. Wide receiver Jonathan Nance transferred from Arkansas after leading the team in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns in 2017.
Missouri’s Scariest Player — Many expected Damarea Crockett to transform into Missouri’s featured back after an exceptional rookie season. Instead, Larry Rountree took over. One of the SEC’s only two 1,000-yard rushers returning to action in 2019, Rountree is a the kind of back that will make opposing fans say, “How can they not tackle that guy?”
How Do I Say That? After earning All-SEC honors in each of his first two seasons, I still can’t correctly pronounce Albert Okwuegbunam’s name. I’ll simply leave it at “Albert O” and let the SEC’s top tight end do all the talking.
Good News for UK — Over the last two years, Missouri’s loss to Kentucky has been the turning point in the Tigers’ season, finishing a combined 10-3 to reach consecutive bowl games. Things don’t seem to click until after they learn their lessons against UK.
Bad News for UK — Missouri could enter Kroger Field undefeated, tagged as “the hottest team in college football and the SEC’s biggest surprise.” Unlike previous years, their schedule is backloaded. The only two road trips before the excursion to Lexington are at Vanderbilt and Wyoming. UK’s home field advantage will be the only thing that can shake the Tigers’ confidence.
Fear Factor — 8.1
Aside from the matchup with Georgia, this is the most talented team on UK’s schedule. Before you stop me to say Florida, Bryant > Franks. This game reminds me of the lead up to last year’s matchup against Miss. State, albeit with differing styles of play. With revenge in mind, and maybe nothing to play for but regular season glory, it will be a 60-minute war at Kroger Field.