LEXINGTON, Ky. — The Nashville hangover was in full effect for Missouri as it traveled to another Southeastern Conference venue.
The Tigers, hoping for a rebound that was a bit of a coach Barry Odom specialty, fell mostly flat against Kentucky after a scoreless first quarter for both teams.
The Wildcats posted 22 unanswered points in the second quarter to give the home side all the momentum it needed through a consistent downpour of rain.
Kentucky washed away Missouri 29-7 Saturday night at Kroger Field in front of a doused crowd.
Missouri falls to 5-3 overall as things got no better one week after losing at Vanderbilt. The Tigers drop to 2-2 in SEC play and slip out of a tie for first place in the SEC East.
“I’m not going to make excuses. It’s not going to be easy,” Odom said after the loss. “We’re 5-3 and we’ve earned 5-3 and it’s not where anybody wants to be, but right now, that’s who we are. You work, you stay positive within the organization because there will be negativity about where we are and what we’re doing and how we’ve played the last couple weeks. I’ve also learned to fight through adversity and rally the troops with the group that we’ve got.”
Kentucky (4-4, 2-4) racked up 297 rushing yards compared to the Tigers' 125. The Wildcats' total equals the mark set by Wyoming against Missouri in Week 1.
The Wildcats extended their winning streak over the Tigers to five, with the last MU victory in the series coming in 2014.
After 11 straight games scoring 30 or more points dating to last year, Missouri has scored a combined 21 points over the past eight quarters combined.
“We just got our butts whooped, just straight up,” Missouri senior offensive lineman Trystan Colon-Castillo said. “They ran all over us, we didn't run the ball. They executed plays, we didn't execute plays.”
The Tigers hoped for an offensive resurgence like they had during a five-game homestand in the friendlier headquarters of Faurot Field earlier this fall.
Instead, Missouri’s wide receivers dropped several passes, including four in the first half to derail any rhythm it drummed up.
That doesn’t automatically down a team, as Kentucky completed only four passes. But for the second straight week, Missouri’s ground attack couldn’t shoulder the load.
“It’s extremely frustrating. We literally pride ourselves since we’ve been here on running the football,” Colon-Castillo said. “So you've got back-to-back, two weeks in a row laying eggs in the run game, not being able to run the ball whenever and impose your will. That's not our identity as an offense, especially not as an offensive line.”
While the precipitation may have played a role in the Tigers’ woes, it didn’t affect the play of Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden Jr. in the slightest.
Bowden, the Wildcats’ emergency choice at quarterback after injuries and transfers left head coach Mark Stoops with almost no other choice, was dominant throughout. He gained 204 rushing yards with two touchdowns on 21 attempts and also threw for 54 yards.
Bowden was a high school quarterback in Youngstown, Ohio, prior to switching to wide receiver at the beginning of his collegiate career. He proved to be kryptonite for a Missouri defense aiming to act like 11 different versions of Superman.
“There were a number of things that we wanted to show him defensively and he made some plays and we overran it,” Odom said of Bowden. “He’s patient enough to get a little crease. ... He's a good player, he's going to make some plays. We needed to limit those and we didn't.”
After choosing to receive the game’s opening kickoff, the Tigers couldn’t score and didn’t until their opening drive of the second half.
A screen pass from Kelly Bryant to Tyler Badie went 74 yards for the lone MU score of the night.
Bryant suffered a hamstring strain on Missouri’s second drive of the game but gutted it out until the third quarter, when Odom pulled him in favor of backup Taylor Powell.
Odom said after the game that replacing Bryant was not performance-based but rather to preserve his health.
Missouri heads into its second bye week needing plenty of soul-searching after two straight losses against teams it was favored to beat by double digits.
Missouri will have to wait until Week 11 of the college football season to try and get its first road win. It won’t come easy “Between the Hedges” Nov. 9 at No. 10 Georgia.
“I thought we had a really good week of practice, I thought we were going to play a lot better than we did tonight, and we didn't,” Odom said. “That’s hard to take, that’s hard to admit, but that’s also what I just saw for four quarters.”
Colon-Castillo still expressed a positive outlook on the remainder of the season despite the turbulence and came to Odom's defense.
“I’m always going to defend coach Odom until the time I’m gone or the time he's gone, whatever it is,” Colon-Castillo said. “I love that man with everything I have in my heart. He goes out and pushes us and puts it out on the line. I don't know what it was this week.
"The coaches aren’t out there making those penalties and making those mistakes, we are.”
Odom’s opening statement pic.twitter.com/LV9PpayY0m
— Eric Blum (@ByEricBlum) October 27, 2019