Mark Story

Blue Preview: Your guide to Kentucky’s football game with Missouri

Kentucky Wildcats senior wide receiver Garrett Johnson, No. 9, is now fourth on the all-time UK receiving yardage list with 1,772 yards. Ahead of him are Craig Yeast (2,899), Keenan Burton (2,376) and Derek Abney (2,339).
Kentucky Wildcats senior wide receiver Garrett Johnson, No. 9, is now fourth on the all-time UK receiving yardage list with 1,772 yards. Ahead of him are Craig Yeast (2,899), Keenan Burton (2,376) and Derek Abney (2,339). aslitz@herald-leader.com

Missouri at Kentucky

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Kroger Field (formerly Commonwealth Stadium)

TV: SEC Network (play-by-play, Taylor Zarzour; analysis, Andre Ware; sideline Olivia Harlan)

Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 191, Sirius Channel 138

Records: Kentucky 4-1 (1-1 SEC), Missouri (1-3, 0-2 SEC)

Series: Kentucky leads 4-3.

Last meeting: Kentucky won 35-21 on Oct. 29, 2016, at Columbia, Mo.

Line: Kentucky is favored by 10 points.

The story line

Kentucky tries to complete the first half of the season with a 5-1 record by overcoming Missouri in a classic “trap game.” Coach Barry Odom’s Tigers come to Lexington off an open week after a dreadful start to their season. “I’m sure they had their bye week and had a chance to hit the reset button and want to start this season, their second part of this season, much different,” Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops says. “... Backs against the wall, and I know they’ll play well.”

On the spot

Kentucky offensive line. After allowing Eastern Michigan five quarterback sacks, three quarterback hurries and 10 tackles for loss, the UK ‘o line’ badly needs a bounce-back game against a Missouri defense that has surrendered 43, 31, 35 and 51 points in its four games. After Drake Jackson made his college debut at center last week in relief of Bunchy Stallings, it sounds like the former Woodford County star will again get some reps this week.

The big threat

Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is second in the SEC in passing yards a game (278.8) and has thrown 10 touchdown passes vs. six interceptions. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound junior “is as good as there is,” Kentucky’s Stoops says. “... He can make all the throws.” In his Mizzou career, Lock is 21-for-36 passing against UK for 267 yards with two touchdowns and no picks.

The mood

Even though UK has won 11 of its past 16 games, it’s not all that happy. The crushing Florida loss two weeks ago led to a subdued Kroger Field crowd and a flat Kentucky team last week that survived Eastern Michigan. A third straight victory over Missouri would make for a happy UK Homecoming and set the Cats up to try to create a memorable second half of the season.

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