Kentucky is 6-1 and ranked No. 12 in the country but is somehow a 6.5-point underdog on the road vs. Missouri, who is winless in the SEC. What gives? I spent the morning scouring the game notes for both squads and came up with three things to keep an eye on.
Drew Lock vs. Josh Allen
Did you know Drew Lock is sixth on the SEC’s career passing touchdowns list? Me neither. With 87 touchdowns, the senior quarterback is one touchdown pass away from tying Chris Leak and Tim Tebow for fourth. If he throws two touchdowns vs. Kentucky, he’ll tie Peyton Manning for third.
So far this season, Lock has 1,979 yards for 16 touchdowns and 6 interceptions, over two times what Kentucky’s passing game has been able to muster. Last year, he threw for 355 yards and three touchdowns in Missouri’s 40-34 loss to Kentucky in Lexington. Missouri’s offensive line has allowed only eight sacks all season. To say Josh Allen has his work cut out for him is an understatement, especially if the refs continue to turn a blind eye to holds.
Who will be less sloppy?
In what continues to be one of the odder stats of the season, Kentucky is sixth in the country in opponent penalties (64 for 504 yards). Mizzou clobbered Memphis 65-33 last weekend, but committed more than their fair share of errors with 12 penalties for 122 yards. Among those were a roughing the passer call, a targeting penalty, and an unsportsmanlike conduct call in garbage time. It didn’t end up mattering because Mizzou scored nine touchdowns off of almost 700 yards of offense, but something to keep an eye on Saturday.
Saying that turnovers will decide the game seems like a cliche, but given Kentucky’s current situation at quarterback, that will be doubly true on Saturday. In Missouri’s four wins (Tennessee Martin, Wyoming, at Purdue, Memphis), the Tigers had 23-3 points off turnovers; on the flip side, in their three losses (No. 2 Georgia, at South Carolina, at No. 1 Alabama), they’ve been outscored 27-6 in points of turnovers.
Mark Stoops said Terry Wilson will start but he won’t hesitate to use other quarterbacks if needed. Given all the uncertainty in the passing game, Kentucky’s offense will almost certainly be Benny Snell or bust, but whomever is at quarterback can’t afford many mistakes. We know Terry’s issues, but that’s also a pretty daunting task for Gunnar Hoak and Danny Clark, who have yet to play outside of Kroger Field
Put pressure on Lock, limit penalties, and don’t turn the ball over. Easy enough, right?