Cats Looking To Bounce Back
A week ago the Kentucky football team headed to Auburn looking to make a statement. Ranked in the Top 25 beginning the season for the first time since 1978, the Cats played the eighth-ranked Tigers even for the first half. However, a blatant missed call and, their old nemesis, the turnover turned a close game into a 29-13 loss. On Saturday Mark Stoops’ team opens the home schedule with a visit from the “Lane Train.” Can the Cats bounce back? Before we begin previewing Ole Miss at Kentucky we have some breaking news to talk about.
Finally, A Decision
It’s been one of the most talked-about topics with Kentucky football all summer and into the fall. When will a decision come on Joey Gatewood? The answer turned out to be Wednesday night. The former Auburn quarterback who transferred to Kentucky late last year was granted eligibility for this season by the NCAA and SEC. He played in one game as a true freshman then seven games in 2019. In limited action, Gatewood ran for 148 yards and three touchdowns and threw for two more. If you remember, Gatewood lost the quarterback job to Bo Nix then decided to transfer. Coach Stoops tweeted about the decision.
We’re excited that @joey1gatewood has received waivers from the @NCAA and @SEC and will be eligible to play this season. We’re thankful that the SEC Presidents and Commissioner @GregSankey took into account the unique circumstances around this season.
— Mark Stoops (@UKCoachStoops) September 30, 2020
Gatewood should become the backup quarterback to Terry Wilson with true freshman Beau Allen dropping to third string. Now that we’ve gotten you updated on the breaking news, let’s get back to previewing Ole Miss at Kentucky.
Playing Kentucky Football
Against the Tigers, Kentucky came out of the gates strong, taking their first possession 93 yards for a touchdown. Kavosiey Smoke ran it the last 35 putting the Cats up 7-0. Following that first drive, the rest of the first half the Cats turned the ball over on downs, punted, and lastly Wilson was intercepted at the goal line. The pick happened two plays after an obvious to everyone but the official’s touchdown by Christopher Rodriguez. After gaining 35 yards on that opening drive Smoke gained 27 the rest of the game. Some of that credit goes to the Auburn defensive but especially in the red zone, you don’t want to get too cute. Just ask Pete Carroll in the Super Bowl a few years ago.
Another place where the Cats need to play better is in the secondary. Bo Nix threw for 233 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday. In addition, wide receiver Seth Williams hauled in six receptions for 112 yards and two touchdowns. No week is ever easy in the SEC and they face another stiff test against Ole Miss.
Scouting The Rebels
A week ago Florida’s Kyle Trask looked like a Heisman candidate throwing for 416 yards and an SEC record-tying six touchdowns in a 51-35 win. In the process spoiling the debut of Lane Kiffin in Oxford. For the game, the Ole Miss defense gave up 642 total yards, with nearly 200 of it coming on the ground. However, the Rebels’ offense torched the vaunted Gators defense for 613 yards.
Quarterback Matt Corral threw for 395 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he ran for another 50 including a team-high 20 yard gain. They also ran for 170 yards total on the ground led by Jerrion Ealy with 79. Corral’s favorite target was All-SEC wide receiver Elijah Moore, who had 10 receptions for 227 yards. Another receiver the Cats will have to look out for is Dontario Drummond. He only caught two passes against Florida for 60 yards but both went for touchdowns.
The Last Time They Met And Series History
Four years ago the Cats and Rebels met in a wild one in Lexington. Benny Snell punched it in from a yard out to give Kentucky a 34-30 lead with two minutes to play. However many in the Big Blue Nation wondered if UK left too much time on the clock. Turns out they were right as Jordan Ta’amu drove down the field eventually hitting D.K. Metcalf with a seven-yard touchdown with five seconds remaining for a 37-34 win.
Ole Miss owns a 27-14 advantage all-time against Kentucky with one tie. In addition, they have won eight of the last 11 in the series. The Wildcats’ most recent win came back in 2011. One of the biggest wins in school history came back in 1964 when the Cats upset number one Ole Miss in Oxford. It remains the last time Kentucky beat a Top 10 SEC team on the road.
As we continue previewing Ole Miss at Kentucky it’s time to pick a winner.
Who Wins On Saturday?
The biggest thing Kentucky needs to do on Saturday is to control the ball. Last week against Auburn they got away from what made them so successful the last couple of years. In our Auburn game preview, we said if Wilson throws the ball more than 25 times they won’t win. As it turns out they threw it 37. Running the ball behind the best offensive line in the league provides the best path to victory for the Cats. Use the strong running game to set up the passing attack.
As mentioned earlier, Saturday’s game is the home opener for the 2020 season. About 12,000 fans will be allowed in Kroger Field or about 20% of capacity. This of course is in relation to COVID-19 concerns. As we saw at Auburn even a limited crowd can make a lot of noise. Kentucky needs their crowd to be loud on Saturday.
Ole Miss wants to turn the game into a track meet, and it’s very difficult for the opposing team to not get caught up in a fast-paced game. However, Kentucky needs to do what they do best, run the ball, and control the clock. This is a game Kentucky needs, especially with the all-SEC schedule in 2020. Right now we have them projected for the Music City Bowl, but they need a win. Look for a close game that much like four years ago goes down to the wire. In addition look for a great game from Wilson and a bounce-back game from the secondary. The Wildcats get a big win and even their 2020 record.
Kentucky 35 Ole Miss 28
Thanks for previewing Ole Miss at Kentucky with us here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll have a game wrap up for you and get you ready for Mike Leach’s return to Lexington next Saturday night.