Kentucky came close last week against Florida. Quarterback Patrick Towles and the Wildcats finished the job on Saturday against two-time defending SEC East champ Missouri, handing the Tigers a 21-13 defeat.
It was the first loss of the season for No. 25 Missouri (3-1, 0-1 SEC) with Gary Pinkel's offense struggling for a third straight week while 1,000-yard rusher Russell Hansbrough contends with an ankle injury.
Here is how the Wildcats (3-1, 2-1) earned the victory:
What the win means for Kentucky: Beating South Carolina on the road two weeks ago was a huge momentum builder for Mark Stoops' team. Beating a ranked team for their second conference win in three games is another, as the Wildcats won just two SEC games all of last season. Kentucky should be 4-1 on Oct. 15 when Auburn visits on a Thursday night. That will launch a key stretch of the schedule (Auburn, Mississippi State, Tennessee, Georgia) that might determine whether the Wildcats reach the postseason. Right now, things are looking great for Kentucky.
What the loss means for Missouri: Hansbrough gave it a go on Saturday, but he was clearly not back to the form that helped him serve as a key cog in the Tigers' offense during their division championship run last fall. Without a dangerous rushing presence, Maty Mauk (15-for-30 for 180 yards, one touchdown) and the Mizzou offense continued to struggle. The Tigers gained 338 yards of total offense, but put the ball in the end zone just once, on a pass from Mauk to J'Mon Moore in the first quarter).
Player of the game: Towles hadn't been particularly sharp lately, but he was on target against a solid Mizzou defense. Towles completed 22 of 27 passes for 249 yards and two touchdowns. Towles hit C.J. Conrad with the go-ahead, 24-yard touchdown in the third quarter. He also scrambled 14 yards for Kentucky's first touchdown of the night
Unsung hero: Kentucky Garrett Johnson was already having a solid night before a fourth-quarter drive where the Wildcats pushed their lead from 14-10 to 21-10. Johnson made a brilliant 35-yard catch, then a 6-yard reception and then a catch for a 24-yard gain on third-and-10 at the Mizzou 29. On the next play, Dorian Baker caught a 5-yard touchdown pass from Towles and the Wildcats had a double-digit lead with 6:20 to play. Johnson finished with six catches for 119 yards.