The college football season is officially started, and local Kentucky fans have a lot to look afford to going on with the season. The Wildcats return back to Kroger Field this Saturday as they take on the Missouri Tigers, as they look for avenge their 10-20 loss last season. Kentucky in recent history has had great success against the Tigers with a 5-1 record since 2015 but fell short last season. This year is looking like it could go the Cats way once again as they come in as a -5.5-point favorite.
Cats’ fans will be on the lookout for Will Levis’s second game to see if the hype around the new quarterback continues. Levis impressed in the first game over Louisiana-Monroe, but this will be a test in the SEC to see if the hype is real. SEC football is a different world in the college football world. The defense is locked and loaded for the season with a lineup full of hungry seniors who want to make a huge statement this year, so a dominant first win over the first SEC opponent will help skyrocket the morale of the defense, as well as the team as a whole.
Missouri is being led by their second-year head coach, Eliah Drinkwitz, as his first season was somewhat of a surprise, leading to potentially another dark horse season for the Tigers this season. Their quarterback for the team is Connor Bazelak, who threw for 2,366 yards with a 67% completion percentage his first year. He did solid in the first game of the season where Missouri slipped by Central Michigan 34-24 in a close game. All-around, Missouri did not shine this game as it was close throughout the game. The one shining player for the team was their running back, Tyler Badie, who rushed 25 times for 203 yards and a touchdown. The team will be similar to last year, but possibly not as strong in the game this Saturday.
The player matchup this week I want to highlight for the game involves Badie and Kentucky’s Third Team Preseason All-SEC running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. Both of these guys are the playmakers for both teams this season. In 2020, Rodriguez had 785 rushing yards on 119 carries, with 11 touchdowns. Badie last year did not have the role he wanted last year as he only had 48 carries for 242 yards with four touchdowns. As mentioned before, Badie already has 25 carries and 203 yards, close to last years totals for him. Both guys have huge roles for their team this year and do not be surprised if they both carry a huge workload for Kentucky and Missouri this weekend.
Kentucky fans are excited for the rest of the season. This game will be huge for how the season will play out. Will Kentucky finally have that breakthrough season to where they will be battling Georgia for a spot in Atlanta? Or will the team have another middle of the pack season? This game will show us what is to come for this season. My prediction for the game will be Kentucky will come out victorious, 35-17. The MVP for offense will be Chris Rodriguez and for the defense, Josh Paschal. And as always, GO CATS!