When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 26)
Where: Kroger Field (capacity 61,000)
Radio: WLAP-AM 630, WBUL-FM 98.1, XM Channel 190, Sirius 137, Internet 961
Records: Kentucky (3-4, 1-4 SEC); Missouri (5-2, 2-1 SEC)
Series history: Kentucky leads 6-3 and has won four in a row
Last meeting: No. 12 Kentucky beat Missouri 15-14 on Oct. 27, 2018, at Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium in Columbia, Mo.
The story line
Needing three more victories to become bowl-eligible for a fourth straight year, Kentucky begins a stretch of five games, four at home, that will define its 2019 season. Missouri is 5-0 at home and 0-2 on the road this season, but Barry Odom’s Tigers figure to have their motivational fires roaring for the trip to Lexington. Mizzou is coming off a 21-14 upset loss at Vanderbilt that knocked the formerly-No. 22 Tigers out of the AP poll. Missouri is also seeking to snap its four-game losing skid vs. UK, the past two of which included controversial officiating decisions in the final seconds that each worked in Kentucky’s favor.
The big threat
Kelly Bryant. The graduate transfer who quarterbacked Clemson to the College Football Playoff in 2017 is coming to Lexington off his worst game as Missouri QB. In the unexpected loss at Vanderbilt, the 6-foot-3, 225-pound Bryant completed only 13 of 26 passes for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception. For the season, however, the Calhoun Falls, S.C., product has been all Missouri could have expected, throwing for 1,715 yards and 13 TDs vs. only five picks with a completion percentage of 63.1. In what is usually bad news for Kentucky defenses, Bryant can also hurt teams with his legs. He was Mizzou’s leading rusher with 72 yards on 16 carries at Vanderbilt.
On the spot
Mark Stoops. Since becoming Kentucky head coach in 2013, Stoops is 0-7 against Georgia — and 0-6 in the game immediately following the Bulldogs. With UK coming off a 21-0 whitewashing at Sanford Stadium, it means Mizzou has the coveted “week after Georgia” slot on the Wildcats’ schedule. Stoops must again try to figure out a way to lift his team out of its history of post-Georgia futility.
Is wait and see. Coming off last season’s 10-3 breakthrough season, Kentucky fans were hopeful the 2019 Wildcats could produce a worthy follow-up. Its season undermined by multiple quarterback injuries, UK has not done that so far. However, most reasonable preseason goals for the Cats are still attainable if Kentucky can take care of business down the stretch.