clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

PREGAMIN’ KENTUCKY

New, 1 comment

HOOO BOY THOSE WILDCATS SURE ARE MAD ABOUT THAT BEAUTIFUL PICTURE. LET’S HANG IT IN THE LOUVRE!

Josh Matejka

Drink Up!

It seems like the media schedule dictates that hype videos are now being dropped on Saturdays post-Pregamin’ (boo!) so we may need to find something else to do with this space. Stay tuned...

BUT UNTIL THEN, be sure you’re taking part in Black & Gold Fridays. Need some help? Hit up the Mizzou Store.

Also if you haven’t noticed, Kentucky fans are BIG MAD about the dope photo that came from last year’s game.

Imagine getting pressed for a whole year because your guy got trucked and then clowned on by a bunch of opposing players. Couldn’t be us!

To celebrate the one-year anniversary of this beautiful moment, we’ve decided to hang this image in honor in the Rock M Museum of Art

It’s beautiful!

Came Through Drippin’

ALL. WHITES. ALERT! So icy.

All whites are my favorite uniform combo, and it always be... although I would still much rather have the Block M than the Oval Tiger. So we’re going to give this a solid 9.5/10, with that extra .5 reserved for the Block M that they still have yet to throw up this season.

What the “Experts” are saying

It’s dangerous to try and glean too much insight from Week One because, well, it’s Week One. But that’s the business we’re in so... what’s one surefire thing we learned about Mizzou against CMU?

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards, Football Editor: That Eli Drinkwitz is competent in close-game situations. He’s 6-1 all-time in one-score games (3-0 at Mizzou) and does a good job of managing his players and game situations while benefitting from having a good quarterback and elite special teams. If the game is coming down to the wire, I’m going to have faith in Drink until proven otherwise.

Brandon Kiley, Lead Football Writer: That most of the questions we had coming into the season were legitimate? Is that a fair takeaway?

Here’s what I mean: we all wondered if the Tigers had enough at linebacker to patch over the loss of Nick Bolton. The first week returned, well, mixed reviews. Blaze Alldredge added exactly what we expected by way of big plays in the passing game, but the linebackers really struggled at times with their run fits. There were also legitimate questions in both trenches. And, let’s be honest, both the offensive and defensive line really struggled at times against Central Michigan.

In other words, the questions we had coming into the season remain legitimate questions going into the second game of the season. Hopefully this week the answers revealed are more positive for the Tigers.

Aaron Dryden, Staff Football Analyst: I think it’s safe to assume that this team is going to be a really sound special teams unit. They have the best kicker in the conference, and a top tier punter as well. Harrison Mevis has been almost automatic since he stepped onto campus, and Grant McKinniss has impressed since his arrival last season.

These two, in my opinion, are the single most consistent pieces of the Missouri football team. I know what I’m going to get from the kicker and punter when they come onto the field. Usually, it’s good things.

Kentucky has been a thorn in Mizzou’s side since the arrival in the SEC, mostly because of our perception of how the two programs should compare historically. Maybe it’s time we ask the question: Are Kentucky and Missouri comparable football programs with similar ceilings, floors, etc.?

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Missouri Jay Biggerstaff-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards: I said it in my game preview and I’ll say it again: the current iteration of the Kentucky Wildcat football program is what Missouri is building towards. Consistent, salty, plays to an identity, develops 3-star guys into 4-star talents, nabs blue-chippers and gets their players into the NFL. That’s what we should all want, and that’s where Kentucky is currently situated. I will say, though, that I think Kentucky is hitting its ceiling under Mark Stoops and that where they are right now is as good as they are going to get. Missouri has shown the ability to exceed that: twice they’ve won the division and been one game away from the National Championship and have shown the ability to have sustained runs of success. I believe the floors of both programs are the same but, with my Mizzou bias showing proudly, I think Missouri can be more than what Kentucky can be.

Brandon Kiley: Kentucky is 7-4 heads up against Missouri historically. The Tigers have a losing record against Kentucky (4-5) since the Tigers joined the SEC. Right, wrong or indifferent — these are peer programs. This is and has been the “swing game” of all swing games since joining the conference. And 2021 will be no different.

Missouri should be better than Kentucky. I believe the Tigers will be better than Kentucky. But Mark Stoops is a really good coach and the Wildcats have a clear identity. They want to come in and kick your ass. You’ll find out exactly how good you are when you play Kentucky. They don’t pull off a ton of upsets, but they generally beat who they should and lose to who they should. That’s why it’s such a telling game for Missouri, one way or the other.

So, to answer the question directly, yes, these are peer programs at the moment and the next step for Drinkwitz is to elevate Missouri above programs like Kentucky consistently in the SEC East.

Aaron Dryden: I always look at Kentucky as Missouri’s uglier twin brother.

That may seem like an insult, and believe me, it is. But at the same time, the Kentucky game has been a good barometer of what the season is going to look like for Mizzou. These programs are nearly identical as far as prestige, recruiting, and budget. Every year, they usually play a tight game and every year they usually finish within a game or two of each other.

I found this stat to be fascinating:

So, yeah, I would say that they are extremely comparable.

The Wildcats demolished Louisiana-Monroe last week, a decidedly worse team than Central Michigan. But they looked good doing it, dominating on offense and defense. What about Kentucky worries you heading into this weekend’s match up? Be specific.

NCAA Football: UL Monroe at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards: Everything. Next question.

Oh, it says here, “be specific.” Yeah, I can do that.

Kentucky established a bona fide passing game against one of the worst programs in the country but they still have a killer running game powered by Chris Rodriguez, Jr. and an outstanding offensive line. Missouri’s defense took awhile to wake up last week and I worry that they’ll do the same this week. However, unlike last week, taking two quarters to wake up against Kentucky could easily mean 21 points on the board.

The Wildcat defense is always really good, especially when they have elite edge rushers. I’m not sure if I’d put Josh Paschal and Jordan Wright in “elite” territory right now but they are very good. My concern is that the Tiger offensive line still doesn’t have it together and Connor and Tyler are running for their lives on every snap.

Brandon Kiley: Well, a lot. They had the typical dominant running game you expect, but they also added a new explosive passing game to go with it for the first time since, well, forever. Penn State transfer Will Levis finished his first game at Kentucky with more than 350 yards through the air and an average of 14.1 yards per attempt. That’s quite good!

The Wildcats added quite a bit of talent since the end of last year through the transfer portal, most notably with the aforementioned Levis, offensive guard Dare Rosenthal (LSU), wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson (Nebraska) and wide receiver Tre’Von Morgan (Michigan State). That’s a lot of ready-made talent added to an offense that needed it.

This is a massive test for Missouri. The expectation for this team should be set somewhere around 7-5. A win against Kentucky would go a long way towards that end. A loss makes it that much more difficult to get above .500 for the season. A win adds some momentum for this team as it heads into the middle portion of the season. A loss would take the wind out of the sails early in yet another Missouri season. Here goes nothin’!

Aaron Dryden: Kentucky is getting a lot of hype about this new and improved passing game, but I’m not so convinced that their passing game is going to be what carries them. Underneath all of the flash of that newfound passing attack, is a team that has a run first identity. They’d much rather beat you by dominating up front, and controlling the clock. That’s where they start to scare me, just because that’s one thing that Kentucky has consistently been about during Stoops’ time there.

With that, their offensive line is also a very good group. Good enough of a group to grind out a win if need be. So while the new passing game is good, and could change their trajectory as a team, they’re still a team that has a DNA of running the ball well and playing great defense.

Pick ‘em! Mizzou is a 5-point underdog to the ‘Cats with the over/under set at 56.5. Give us your picks, and tell us which player needs to show out to secure a Mizzou victory.

NCAA Football: Central Michigan at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Nate Edwards: I think Kentucky wins a close one, 31-24, which means they cover the 5-point spread. 31+24=55 which is a hair under the established O/U of 56.5 so I’ll go under. I would be very happy if I was wrong.

The offensive line is going to have to be much better than they were last Saturday for the Tigers to have a chance here. As long as Akayleb Evans and Allie Green IV have the heaviest usage, I feel good about their chances in sticking with the Wildcat passing attack. It’s going to be a stressful Saturday night, regardless.

Brandon Kiley: It’s truly a gift how bad I am these predictions. Alas, I’ll give my best effort. I’m going to take Kentucky to win the game, but not to cover the spread. Give me Kentucky by a final score of 30-27. So I’ll take Mizzou with the points, an over on the point total and a straight up victory for Kentucky. Got all that, my gambling friends?

Now do the opposite!

For the Tigers to win this game, it’s going to come down to a stronger performance in the trenches. Missouri got out-manned along both lines in the first half against Central Michigan. Steve Wilks made some critical adjustments in the second half and things seemed to settle in a bit. If that trend continues against Kentucky, the Tigers will have every chance to win in the end. Buckle in, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Aaron Dryden: I’m taking Missouri. I’m also taking the over. Is this a homer pick? Yes. Do I believe it will happen? Also yes.

Missouri has the ingredients to cook up an upset, but it’s going to take the boys in the trenches really showing up and imposing their will, similarly to what they did last season. I think after the showing against CMU, they’re going to wake up and set the tone. I also think that the first week was a slimmed down version of what Coach Drinkwitz wants to do next week and so there will be a few more wrinkles to show.

34-30, Good guys.

Badie has 125+ all purpose, and Bazelak goes for 275 and 3 TD’s.