By KEITH TAYLOR
LEXINGTON, Ky. — Kentucky has dominated its yearly series against Missouri.
The Wildcats (2-2) have won five straight against the Tigers but Kentucky coach Mark Stoops said the recent success “truthfully means nothing” when the two teams meet Saturday in Columbia.
“We have to go win this week,” the Kentucky coach said. “I don’t even know what the streak is. This is a new staff, a new group and I have no idea what it is because it really means nothing.”
The Tigers (1-2) lost their first two games of the season but gave first-year Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz his first win as coach of the Tigers on Oct. 10 with a 45-41 triumph over defending national champion LSU. Missouri opened with losses to Alabama and Tennessee, respectively, before the breakthrough against the Tigers.
“We know they’re getting better and better,” Stoops said. “They are a well-coached football team and we expect them to be rested and prepared for us. (Drinkwitz) is very creative and gives you a lot of things to look at and puts pressure on you. …Obviously, a very good coach and seems like a great guy and what I have been around him I really enjoy being around him. With playing him (before), it will be a real challenge.”
Like Missouri, Kentucky lost its first two games of the season but has captured two straight victories, including a 34-7 win over Tennessee, the team’s first victory over the Volunteers in Knoxville since 1984. Kentucky defeated Mississippi State 24-2 two weeks ago to begin the current win streak.
Kentucky’s defense has been instrumental during the recent turnaround and has collected nine interceptions in the past two games, including three against the Vols last week that were returned for touchdowns. LSU transfer Kelvin “Bossman” Joseph has two interceptions during the past two weeks.
“I think Kelvin let the game come to him and at that position, you are only going to have so many opportunities per game and you have to make the most of it and he has done that the past couple of weeks,” Stoops said, “He is letting the game come to him, do his job and focus on what he needs to do and good things are going to happen to him. That goes for all of our team.”
Drinkwitz expects Kentucky to establish the run against his squad this week. The Wildcats did just that in last year’s 29-7 win over the Tigers last year at Kroger Field.
“They’re going to force the run — that’s what they do,” Drinkwitz said. “They’re built for it and they’re going to do that consistently. We’re going to have to find ways to stop the run and that starts with our defensive line. I do not know personally but, when I have been around him in our meetings and he is new to the league, everything you hear about him and you can tell by watching and listening to him seems like a great person and obviously a great coach.”
Gametracker: Kentucky at Missouri, 4 p.m., Saturday. TV/Radio: SEC Network, UK Radio Network.