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October 26, 2012

Kentucky travels to Missouri to meet new SEC foe

KENTUCKY (1-7, 0-5 SEC)
Coach: Joker Phillips
Record: 12-21 (4-17 SEC) in three seasons at UK, overall
Last game: Georgia 29, Kentucky 24
Next game: Vanderbilt, Nov. 3
Roster | Depth chart
MISSOURI (3-4, 0-4 SEC)
Coach: Gary Pinkel
Record: 88-58 (0-4 SEC) in 12 seasons at Missouri; 161-95-3 in 22 seasons overall.
Last game: Alabama 42, Mizzou 10
Next game: at Florida, Nov. 3
Roster | Depth chart
Game/Series Information
Game Information
Site: Faurot Field Memorial Stadium (71,004)
TV: ESPNU (Tom Hart play-by-play, Jon Congemi analyst)
Radio: UK IMG Sports Network (Tom Leach play-by-play, Jeff Piecoro analysis; Dick Gabriel sideline); XM 200; Sirius 113.
Internet: Audio | Video
Favorite: Missouri by 13.5

Series Information
Series record: Kentucky leads 2-0
At Columbia: Kentucky leads 1-0
Coaches' records:Phillips 0-0 vs. Missouri; Pinkel 0-0 vs. UK

Last meeting
Kentucky 12, Missouri 6 (Sept. 21, 1968, in Lexington)
Dicky Lyons helped UK to a first quarter lead, scoring on a sweep that put the Wildcats up 6-0 after a failed extra point attempt. A 79-yard touchdown pass from Terry McMillen to Melvin Gray tied the game before halftime after another failed extra point attempt. UK wouldn't score again until Lyons rushed 26 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter. Missouri had a final shot after recovering a UK fumble 24 yards from the end zone, but turned the ball over on the next play.

Keys to the Game
1. Quarterback Roulette: The quarterback situation for both teams is unsteady, to say the least. Mizzou's Corbin Berkstresser isn't even completing half his passes this season, while UK isn't sure what it will get with the three-headed hydra of Jalen Whitlow, Patrick Towles and Morgan Newton. If any one of those quarterbacks can consistently lead an offense -- or if James Franklin reappears for Missouri -- one team should take control of the game.

2. Second Showing: The Wildcats' defensive backs hadn't been the issue for the defense most of the season, but they've given up nearly 800 passing yards in the last two games to Arkansas and Georgia. The secondary will get a boost if Martavius Neloms can return, but it has to give UK a chance with or without him. If Missouri can pass the ball at will, there might not be a shot for UK to respond.

3. Tiger Special: Missouri has potent players on both ends of the special teams spectrum. Punter Trey Barrow averages over 44 yards per punt for his career and kick returner Marcus Murphy has returned four kicks (three punts, one kickoff) for touchdowns this season. He's averaging nearly 19 yards per punt return. Field position figures to play a major role with two backup quarterbacks, and the Tigers should have a strong showing.

Staff Predictions
Ben Jones, Staff Writer: Missouri 27, Kentucky 14
Both teams are still reeling from winless SEC starts, but there's still hope for Missouri to make a bowl game with a late run. Kentucky hasn't quit yet, but there's just not as much for the Wildcats to play for. Until the young secondary shows it can stop the passing game and the offense proves it can move the ball through the air, it'll be tough for UK to beat any major-conference opponent.

T.J. Walker, Staff Writer: Missouri 31, Kentucky 14
The Cats played well against Georgia, and if they can match that performance against a weaker Missouri team, UK could sneak out its second win. But don't count on it. The Tigers are looking for their first-ever SEC win, and they take homecoming seriously in Columbia. Expect Whitlow to struggle in a tough road environment, and the nightmare season continues.

Aaron Smith, staff writer: Kentucky 20, Missouri 17
The Wildcats win their first SEC game this Saturday. Picking this young Kentucky team on the road scares me, but why not? The new-to-the-conference Tigers are still looking for their first league win as well, and reports indicate they will be playing their own freshman quarterback. So let's roll with it: Kentucky improves to 2-7.

Brett Dawson, Publisher: Missouri 23, Kentucky 14
Move this game to Lexington and Kentucky's picking up its first SEC win of the season. But in Columbia? On homecoming? With Kentucky's youth and uncertainty at quarterback? That's a recipe for Mizzou's first SEC win ever. There's still some fight in these Cats, and it feels like they'll claw to keep this one close. But not close enough.

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