Kentucky vs. Missouri: Keys to Saturday's game

November 8, 2013 

Quick facts about Saturday's University of Kentucky football game home game against ninth-ranked Missouri:

THE GAME

No. 9 Missouri (8-1, 4-1 SEC) at Kentucky (2-6, 0-4)

When: Noon

Where: Commonwealth Stadium

TV: ESPNU

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 201, Sirius Channel 119

Series: Kentucky leads 2-1

Last meeting: Missouri won 33-10 on Oct. 27, 2012, in Columbia.

Line: Missouri by 131/2

THE KEYS

Ball security

Missouri leads the SEC in interceptions (17) and turnover margin (plus-15). The Tigers have forced a turnover in 39 consecutive games, the longest such streak in the country. Kentucky has not committed a turnover in its last four games — although it did fumble three times (and recovered them all) in last week's victory over Alabama State. To have any shot at an upset, UK cannot afford giveaways.

Find some receivers

Kentucky's third-leading receiver, true freshman Alexander Montgomery, is out for the season after suffering a torn ACL celebrating his touchdown catch last week. UK's second-leading pass catcher, true freshman Ryan Timmons, is questionable with an ankle sprain. When it's not intercepting passes, Missouri's secondary gives up some yards — the Tigers are last in the SEC in pass defense (allowing 279.3 yards a game). To take advantage, UK needs juniors Javess Blue and Demarco Robinson to come up huge.

Contain a mobile quarterback

Whether injured Missouri starter James Franklin (completing 67.7 percent of his passes with 14 TDs vs. three interceptions; 290 yards rushing) returns as the Mizzou QB after missing three full games with a shoulder injury or whether redshirt freshman Maty Mauk (threw for three TDs and ran for 114 yards vs. Tennessee) again gets the start, UK will be facing a multiple-threat quarterback. Historically, that has not been good for Kentucky.

THE MOOD

Is hopeful. In the pre-season, many looked at UK's rugged schedule and tabbed Missouri (5-7, 2-6 SEC in 2012) in Commonwealth Stadium as likely to be Mark Stoops' first SEC victory as Kentucky head coach. That was before Gary Pinkel's Tigers emerged as perhaps the nation's biggest surprise. While looking much less likely now, a UK victory over a top-10-ranked Missouri would have far greater impact.

MARK STORY

Mark Story: (859) 231-3230. Email: mstory@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @markcstory. Blog: markstory.bloginky.com.

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