When Missouri and Texas A&M joined the SEC four years ago, it was a relief for many to discover Missouri would be Kentucky’s regular eastern division foe. Unlike A&M, Mizzou wasn’t flashy and appeared to be a beatable foe, year in and year out.
For the last three years, the Cats entered the game with a perceived chance to win. What has happened can be described as nothing short of a complete dumpster fire. Arguably the worst performance of each season, Mizzou games have been unbearable to watch. As a matter of fact, I didn’t watch the second half last year. It hurt my eyes too much.
So what goes wrong every time Kentucky plays Missouri? I think we can all admit that Missouri is always better than we think they are, but the best way to examine what went wrong is by looking at the stats.
Kentucky and Missouri’s Last Three Games
Even though Mizzou is beating UK in nearly every category, there are two categories that really stick out: first downs and 3rd down conversions. Kentucky’s best day on 3rd down against Mizzou was 33%, whereas Mizzou has never converted less than 50% of their 3rd downs against Kentucky.
On the KSR podcast, Freddie Maggard spoke in detail about how Missouri makes you play ugly football. They take advantage of every opportunity presented while limiting their opponent’s opportunities for big plays. They’ve made every game against UK an ugly one, and the Wildcats weren’t talented or experienced enough to overcome.
For Kentucky to win on Saturday, they must get positive yards on first down to prevent from playing behind the chains. They have an elite secondary and a pass rush that will pin their ears back on passing situations and force Patrick Towles to make quick, erratic decisions.
The Cats must make routine plays and find an offensive rhythm early to open the door for big play opportunities, something the nation’s #4 defense doesn’t give up often.