Kentucky vs Missouri Odds, Picks: Defenses Will Shine in SEC Clash
Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky Wildcats
Kentucky vs Missouri Odds
This matchup between familiar SEC East opponents features two teams whose seasons are trending in opposite directions.
Missouri returns home after defeating South Carolina, 23-10, for its second win in a row.
Meanwhile, Kentucky is licking its wounds after being blown out by Tennessee, the No. 1 team in the country.
Both the Wildcats and Tigers have relied heavily on their defensive units this season, a trend that has defined this matchup in the past.
Six of the past eight meetings between these two teams have gone under the total. So far this season, these two teams are a combined 14-2 in favor of the under.
Are we in for another defensive slug fest? Or will either offense finally find some consistent success?
Let's dive in.
After Kentucky's offense was only able to muster six points against a vulnerable Tennessee secondary, the heat has been turned up on OC Rich Scangarello.
The most notable stat line from the loss to Tennessee was that quarterback Will Levis threw for only 98 yards and also tossed three interceptions.
In past seasons, Kentucky's offenses have been built around solid line play, and in turn, a deadly ground attack. This season, the offense has only been able to post a .73 Explosiveness rushing due to its uncharacteristically poor offensive line.
The Wildcats' offensive line has their work cut out for them yet again against a Tigers defense that is fifth nationally in Line Yards.
As a result, Missouri will look to force Kentucky into uncomfortable passing situations. Missouri has been efficient in this area as well, ranking eighth nationally in Defensive Success Rate, allowing teams just 32.9% overall success when passing.
For Kentucky to bounce back offensively, passing success will be crucial. Scangarello and the offense will have to be better at creating opportunities for their talented wideouts Tayvion Robinson, Barion Brown and Dane Key.
Last week against Tennessee, no Kentucky wide out amassed more than 12 yards from scrimmage and much of its limited passing success came from screen plays and designed running back passing plays.
Look for the Wildcats' wideouts to once again struggle against an experienced Missouri secondary that has climbed to 10th nationally in EPA per Pass.
Kentucky has been able to keep itself in many contests this year — despite poor offensive execution — because of its defense.
Kentucky is inside the top-30 nationally in defensive EPA margin, most notably through stopping the rush.
The Wildcats are 11th nationally in Defensive Rushing Success Rate, allowing teams just 32.7% success on the ground.
This ability to limit teams effectiveness on the ground has been a result of their talented linebacking core. This linebacker unit is lead by senior DeAndre Square, who exited last week's matchup against Tennessee and is doubtful this week against Missouri.
Even with the loss of Square, the Wildcats have a secondary that can be relied on to limit Missouri's statistically poor passing attack.
Kentucky allows just a 37.9% Success Rate against the pass, which puts it just inside the top-40 nationally in EPA per pass attempt.
This effectiveness is due to a talent defensive back unit that can line up one-on-one with most opposing receiving corps.
Kentucky's defensive backs have an 8% Havoc rate, which is above the national average.
By playing one-on-one in the secondary, DC Matt House will be able to put extra men in the box to account for the absence of Square.
Kentucky's defense will give the Wildcats an opportunity to come out victorious, despite their inept offensive play calling.
The Tigers come into this matchup full steam ahead after stealing a win on the road against South Carolina. Missouri posted its best offensive performance against an FBS opponent since Week 1 against Louisiana Tech.
Although this performance resulted in just 23 total points, any momentum for this offensive unit is key with how effective the Tigers have been defensively.
Quarterback Brady Cook tallied 224 yards through the air on a 65.4% completion percentage. Although his yardage may not jump off the page, Cook has improved as the season has gone on from both a yardage and completion percentage perspective.
Most notably, Cook has at least one completion over 40 yards in four of the Tigers' past five games.
Last week, Missouri allowed South Carolina to pass the 40-yard line on just two drives, which resulted in 10 total points.
Tigers DC Blake Baker has made the most of his experienced group, as Missouri ranks 11th and 12th in EPA Margin and Success Rate on defense.
Statistically, this will be the most talented and organized defense that a struggling Kentucky offense has faced all year.
Kentucky has shown an obsession with establishing a rushing attack, no matter how unsuccessful. Through 10 games, the Wildcats rank 105th nationally in EPA per Rush while still maintaining a 57% Rush Rate.
This offensive scheme will be welcomed by a Missouri defensive unit that is 20th nationally in EPA per Rush, allowing just a 34.2% Success Rate on the ground.
If forced to pass, things may get even more dire for Kentucky against a Tigers defense that is actually more effective against the pass.
Missouri has cracked the top 10 in both EPA per Pass and Passing Success Rate, making for an intimidating combo for any offense.
Kentucky vs Missouri Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kentucky and Missouri match up statistically:
Kentucky Offense vs. Missouri Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Missouri Offense vs. Kentucky Defense
|** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)|
Pace of Play / Other
|SP+ Special Teams||73||87|
|Seconds per Play||32.3 (131)||27.5 (91)|
|Rush Rate||57.0% (42)||57.6% (38)|
Data via CollegeFootballData.com (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.
Kentucky vs Missouri Betting Pick
With all the uncertainty regarding both offensive units — particularly that of Kentucky — I look to the total to find the most value in this SEC matchup.
Both teams have been able to count on their defenses to keep them in games this year, a trend that will not change on Saturday.
Additionally, neither team wants to push the pace and both rank outside the top 90 in seconds per play. Specifically, Kentucky is just about as slow as it gets, ranking 131st nationally.
Even after this number has taken heavy steam down to 40.5 at the time of writing, I still find value in the under.
These teams have been under machines all year and will have their defensive units shine once again against offenses that have struggled to find consistency.