UK football opponent preview: Missouri

jclay@herald-leader.comAugust 30, 2012 

Head coaches Joker Phillips, left, and Steve Spurrier shook hands after Kentucky's 54-3 routing at South Carolina's Williams-Brice Stadium in Columbia, S.C., on Oct. 8, 2011. Photo by Pablo Alcala | Staff

PABLO ALCALA | STAFF

  • Missouri Tigers' schedule

    Sept. 1SE Louisiana

    Sept. 8Georgia

    Sept. 15Arizona State

    Sept. 22 at South Carolina

    Sept. 29 at UCF

    Oct. 6Vanderbilt

    Oct. 13Alabama

    Oct. 27Kentucky

    Nov. 3 at Florida

    Nov. 10 at Tennessee

    Nov. 17Syracuse

    Nov. 24 at Texas A&M

Our series on Kentucky's 2012 football opponents continues with Missouri.

Date: Oct. 27 at Columbia, Mo.

Coach: Gary Pinkel is 85-54 in 11 seasons at Missouri. He is 158-91-3 in 21 seasons overall. He came to Missouri after building a winner at Toldeo.

Offense: Quarterback James Franklin is the star of the Mizzou offense after gaining nearly 4,000 yards rushing and passing and scoring 36 touchdowns a year ago. But Franklin has battled shoulder problems, and Missouri will be without running back Henry Josey, who was averaging 116.8 rushing yards per game last year when he injured his knee in November. He has already been ruled out for this year. Franklin does have a stellar target in wide-out T.J. Moe, and Missouri signed the nation's No. 1 recruit in wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham.

Defense: The Tigers are led by linebackers Will Ebner, Zaviar Gooden and Andrew Wilson. Six starters return from last year's unit. The key could be the health of defensive tackles Sheldon Richardson and Brad Madison. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckley's unit gave up 380 yards per game last season, their highest figure since 2008.

Overall: Missouri won five of its last six games last year, including a 41-24 trouncing of North Carolina in the Independence Bowl. If Franklin's shoulder is OK, Pinkel will have a potent offense. Still, the step up in conference competition will be tough for the Tigers, who might need an adjustment period.

Series: Kentucky and Missouri have played just twice, both games coming in the 1960s. UK won 7-0 at Missouri in 1965, then beat the Tigers 12-6 at Stoll Field in 1968.

Schedule: The big game will be Sept. 8 when Georgia comes to Columbia for Missouri's first SEC football game. November will be tough for Mizzou, with road games against Florida, Tennessee and Texas A&M.

Trend: Pinkel's teams have won 10 or more games in three of the past five seasons. Missouri was 27-14 in the Big 12 over the past five years.

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