The Missouri Tigers' defense has not been able to stop either of their SEC opponents this season, and hopes that changes Saturday against Kentucky.

By Spencer Gleason

The Missouri Tigers have had extra time to prepare for Saturday’s game against the Kentucky Wildcats (4-1, 1-1). And as far as Missouri head coach Barry Odom is concerned, their bye week could not have come at a more perfect time.

“For us, it’s happened exactly when we needed it because (we’re) trying to get healthy,” he told the Mizzou Network. “Also, not starting the way that we wanted to – it’s let’s hit the reset button.”

Missouri started the year with an overall record of 1-3 and 0-2 in SEC competition and all of that damage was done on their home turf in Columbia. After 14 days away from a competitive setting, the Tigers will hit the road for the first time this year and hope the change of scenery will help put them on the right track.

Missouri will jump back into SEC action against the Wildcats Saturday night in Lexington, Ky. Kickoff is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and the game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

“Our guys are excited to be playing in that environment,” Odom said.

The Tigers will look to break a nine-game losing streak on the road – a streak which started against Kentucky in week four of the 2015 season.

Missouri has stumbled early this year, losing three consecutive games before the bye week. During that stretch, the Tigers were outscored 107-30 and 82 of those points came against SEC teams. Missouri lost 31-13 against South Carolina on Sept. 9 and 51-14 against Auburn on Sept. 23 – their most recent contest.

Kentucky will not face Auburn during the regular season, but defeated South Carolina 23-13 in week two.

Despite Missouri’s lopsided record, Kentucky head coach Mark Stroops knows the Tigers can strike at any time.

“The number one thing you’re always concerned about when you play them is their offense and their tempo, at which they play,” Stoops said during a press conference this week.

Four games into their season Missouri ranks ninth nationally in yards per completion, averaging 15.93 yards per catch. That mark is also good enough to be second-best in the SEC.

Missouri will depend on sophomore Damarea Crockett in the ground game. After suffering a tailbone injury in week two, Crockett has combined to carry the ball just 23 times and rush for 76 yards in his last two games.

Freshman Larry Roundtree III is able to relieve him periodically, but Missouri’s leading rusher is one of just three active players in the SEC to have two separate games of 200-plus yards in his career. Crockett kicked off the season against Missouri State with a 202-rushing yard performance. He ran for 225 yards in his final game in 2016.

The test will be trying to run against Kentucky’s defensive line. Through their five contests, the Wildcats rank third nationally in rushing defense, allowing just 74 yards per game. They are also third in the SEC and 11th nationally in turnover margin, at plus-seven.

Kentucky leads the overall series against Missouri 4-3 but this will be the sixth time the two have met since the Tigers joined the SEC. Missouri’s last win against the Wildcats was in 2014.