Tigers host the Wildcats in reshuffled SEC East matchup
The Missouri Tigers were supposed to travel to Gainesville to play Florida this weekend, but the game was pushed back to Oct. 31 because the Gators had 21 athletes test positive for COVID-19, plus head coach Dan Mullen. The SEC then decided to alter the dates for those games.
Instead, the Tigers will host the Kentucky Wildcats.
The last time Missouri stepped on the football field, the team pulled off a 45-41 upset against LSU. After its week off, Mizzou will hope to continue its momentum against a Wildcats team that picked up a huge road victory last weekend.
Kentucky, a loser of 17 straight in Knoxville, never trailed in a 34-7 victory over Tennessee. It was the Wildcats' first win at Tennessee since 1984 and their first victory in the series since 2017.
Kentucky leads the all-time series against Missouri 7-3. The Wildcats also won the most recent meeting last season, 29-7 in Lexington.
Kentucky at Missouri
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 24 at 4 p.m. ET
TV: SEC Network
Spread: Kentucky -5.5
When Kentucky Has the Ball
If Kentucky wants to continue its winning streak, passing the ball effectively may be the easiest way. Missouri is among the nation's worst in passing defense at an average of 307.7 yards per game allowed. Through four games, Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson has been one of the more accurate quarterbacks in the SEC as he is completing 64.4 percent of his passes.
Expect the rushing attack to be a primary focus for the Wildcats on Saturday too. Missouri is allowing 130.7 rushing yards per game and opponents are averaging 3.7 yards per carry. Chris Rodriguez Jr. leads Kentucky in rushing with 272 yards and four touchdowns. Wilson is second with 253 yards and three touchdowns.
When Missouri Has the Ball
Missouri quarterback Connor Bazelak had a bit of a coming-out party against LSU. He threw for 406 yards and four touchdowns in the four-point victory, showing his talent and gifted arm strength. Running back Larry Rountree III also had a big game against LSU, as he rushed for 119 yards on 18 carries.
Kentucky's defense has played much better than LSU's so far, though, so Saturday will pose a more difficult test. The Wildcats have the 19th-ranked defense in the nation at 341.3 yards per game allowed. In particular, Kentucky has had one of the better rushing defense in the country, as they're only allowing 106.3 yards on the ground per game.
During Kentucky's winning streak, the Wildcats have capitalized on turnovers. UK had six interceptions against Mississippi State and Mike Leach's high-powered offense. Kentucky also had three interceptions against Tennessee, two of which were returned for touchdowns. Missouri ranks near the bottom in turnover margin as they're -1.67 in that area.
Kentucky could use another magical performance like what they had in Knoxville last weekend. While their defense had also performed well, they will also need their offense to play well against a Missouri team that can also put up points.
Missouri has struggled with ball security through this season, so this an area to keep an eye on. If the first few games are any indicator, this could be a deciding factor in Kentucky's favor.
Missouri is coming off a week off, but the Wildcats defense will prove to be a challenge.
Prediction: Kentucky 31, Missouri 20
Podcast: Week 8 Preview and Predictions
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.
(Larry Rountree III photo courtesy of Missouri Athletics)