No. 8 teams Missouri, Kentucky meet in Big 12-SEC Challenge


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Missouri (Big 12 No. 8) vs. Kentucky (SEC No. 8)

Missouri's record against the SEC: 4-1
Kentucky's record against the Big 12: 0-0
Previous series: Kentucky leads, 2-0
Most recent meeting: Kentucky, 12-6, at Lexington in 1968.

Distance between them (according to How Far Is It): 431 miles.
Where they should play: Paducah, Ky. (237 miles from Lexington, 240 miles from Columbia)

Who wins: Missouri.

Why: Both teams are coming off recent runs that have been the most successful in recent history. Missouri has made back-to-back appearances in the Big 12 title game. And Kentucky has made three straight bowl appearances for the first time since 1950-52 under coach Rich Brooks.

In this mythical matchup, Missouri will send a rebuilding offense keyed by quarterback Blaine Gabbert against a salty Kentucky defense unit led by cornerback Trevard Lindley. The key, like most games for Missouri this season, will be consistent production from its running game led by Derrick Washington and De'Vion Moore.

Missouri returns only four starters on defense, but Gary Pinkel has been raving about the increased athleticism at defensive end and at cornerback. Streaky Kentucky quarterback Mike Hartline hasn't shown much consistency in his career and likely would struggle against the Tigers' defense, particularly linebacker Sean Weatherspoon.

In the end, I think Missouri grinds out a victory because of the running game and with Gabbert making just enough plays to let them win.

Thursday: Colorado (Big 12 No. 7) vs. South Carolina (SEC No. 7).

The count: SEC, 3-2.

Note: Matchups are determined by the most recent rankings of Big 12 blogger Tim Griffin and SEC blogger Chris Low.

All cumulative records against a conference go back to the 1996 season - the first of competition in the Big 12.