UK Football

Mark Story: Three key questions about Saturday's Kentucky-Missouri game

THE GAME

Kentucky (5-3, 2-3 SEC) at Missouri (6-2, 3-1)

When: 4 p.m.

Where: Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play Brent Musburger; analysis Jesse Palmer; sideline Maria Taylor)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 84, Sirius Channel 84

Series: Tied 2-2, but Missouri has won both meetings since joining the SEC in 2012

Last meeting: Missouri won 48-17 on Nov. 9, 2013, in Commonwealth Stadium.

Line: Missouri is favored by 8 points.

THREE KEY QUESTIONS

1. Is Kentucky ready to beat a good team on the road?

The Wildcats have not won a game on an opponent's home field since beating Louisville 23-17 in the 2010 season opener. UK has not won a road SEC contest since upsetting Georgia 34-27 in Athens on Nov. 21, 2009. The Cats have lost 19 true road games in a row and 18 straight SEC road contests. Missouri is 18-4 over the past two seasons. Three of the four defeats have come in Columbia, however, including losses to Indiana and Georgia this season.

Can UK stave off the "pressure to get six"?

After getting to five wins — one victory short of bowl eligibility — Kentucky has lost two straight. With games left at Missouri, Georgia, at Tennessee and at Louisville, there are no certain victories left for the Cats. The longer UK sits on five wins, the more pressure will grow on the Cats to get the sixth. The obvious way to short circuit that entire process would be to cross the bowl-eligibility threshold now.

3. Can Kentucky slow down an opponent's running attack?

In games against quality SEC competition — meaning, this season, other than Vanderbilt — UK has been gashed on the ground. In four non-Vandy SEC contests, Kentucky is allowing a whopping 287 yards a game rushing. Florida's Matt Jones ran for 156 yards on the Cats; South Carolina's Mike Davis rolled up 183. LSU's Terrence Magee went for 127 yards against UK; Mississippi State's Josh Robinson ran wild for 198. Missouri is a so-so ninth in the SEC in rushing (averaging 160.4 yards a game). For Kentucky to win, it must keep Mizzou's ground game from breaking loose.

THE MOOD

Returned to optimism after Kentucky's spirited effort in last week's 45-31 loss to No. 1 Mississippi State. In the first two meetings between UK and Missouri as SEC members, the Tigers have outscored the Wildcats 81-27. Besides claiming bowl eligibility with a victory, Kentucky needs to get off the schneid against Mizzou lest the Cats risk allowing yet another SEC East losing streak start to develop.

MARK STORY

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