The line for Kentucky’s battle tomorrow against the Missouri Tigers has shifted to nearly seven points in favor of Mizzou, causing many in the Big Blue Nation to worry even more than before.
Sure, any game on the road for a relatively young football team is cause for concern, though this game may be different.
Here are four statistics to help ease your nerves before tomorrow’s bright-and-early kickoff:
Against Power Five schools, Mizzou is scoring just 14.7 points per contest
Many people have been terrified of Missouri’s offensive attack, listing their uptempo offense and playmakers as major cause for concern for the Wildcats. Sure, they’re averaging 35 points a game, but that number significantly drops when you only factor in their games against quality opponents.
Missouri scored 61 against Eastern Michigan, 79 against Delaware State, and 45 against Middle Tennessee State. Impressive, sure, but most teams in college football could put up similar numbers against lack of real competition.
The Tigers only scored 11 against West Virginia, 27 against Georgia, 7 against LSU, and 14 against Florida. Major difference there when the opponents are half-way decent.
Missouri gives up 460 total yards a game, 220 yards rushing
If any of you watched the Tigers take on Middle Tennessee State last week, you’ll know that their ability to tackle ball carriers is… well. Not the best. Opposing offenses have been able to do just about whatever they want on the ground against them, as missed tackles pile up in a hurry for the unit.
Last week, Middle Tennessee State managed to rack up nearly 600 yards of total offense, 300 of which coming on the ground. It was an atrocious effort on the defensive side of the ball, and it doesn’t look like that unit is going to get fixed anytime soon.
Against two fantastic run defenses in Vanderbilt and Mississippi State, Kentucky managed to run for over 250 yards in both contests. What are Boom Williams, Benny Snell, and a healthy Jojo Kemp going to do against one of the worst run defenses in the SEC?
As crazy as it sounds, 300+ yards on the ground will not be out of question tomorrow. Surplus of rushing yards=longer time of possession=less time for Mizzou’s “scary” offense to be on the field. If UK can limit silly turnovers, this statistic alone may be what brings the Wildcats to victory tomorrow.
Injuries are piling up for the Tigers
We’ve heard of the season-ending ACL injuries to LB Michael Scherer and DT Terry Beckner Jr., but we can’t stress enough how significant losing both of these guys is for the Tigers. Scherer is one of the best linebackers in the SEC, a three-year starter for the Tigers and the team’s leading tackler with 53 on the year. He’s known as a leader both on and off the field as a seasoned veteran senior.
Beckner Jr. was a consensus 5-star prospect in the nation, with many services listing him as a top-2 player in the class of 2015. After a dominant first year with the program, Beckner was listed as a freshman All-SEC candidate, along with first-team freshman All-American honors from numerous services. He was turning the corner on yet another impressive season before going down last Saturday.
Two studs out for the year on a defensive unit that has struggled tremendously thus far is rough, to put it lightly. You have to feel bad for two incredible football players, but the loss of these two guys alone will play a major role in tomorrow’s contest.
The game will be played at 11:00 AM CT
This may not seem like much of a “statistic,” but it will certainly be a factor for both teams. Several Kentucky players said this week that they actually prefer the early games because they don’t have to wait all day in a hotel room, claiming this game worked to their advantage. Missouri has a bit of experience playing this early, but following a disappointing loss on homecoming last weekend against Middle Tennessee State, you have to think they won’t have the same enthusiasm as they usually do on game day.
From a fan’s point of view, Missouri is 2-5, and with an 11:00 AM kickoff for locals, you can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be an empty stadium. The “home field advantage” factor will be a significant step down from UK’s last two away games in Gainesville and Tuscaloosa, which should help out the young guys getting significant reps.
Tomorrow’s game is massive, and with a win, Kentucky could essentially punch their ticket to participate in post-season action. Hopefully for them, these four statistics fall in favor of the Wildcats tomorrow afternoon.