Kentucky Versus Ole Miss Preview

Statement Game On Saturday

One of the biggest games in college football this weekend happens down in Oxford, Mississippi. It’s an early start for the national audience on ESPN, NOON eastern and 11:00 am local time. This match-up of 4-0 top 15 teams has a little of everything from a big-time return to special uniforms. Let’s break it all down and pick a winner with our Kentucky Versus Ole Miss Preview.

Ready To Run

It’s a much-awaited return to action on Saturday as Chris Rodriguez returns to Mark Stoops’ line-up following a four-game suspension. He should give an immediate boost to what’s been a struggling running game for the Cats. With all the success they’ve had over the last few years it’s hard to believe so far in 2022 Kentucky ranks 13th of 14 teams in the SEC with 81.5 yards per game. Only Mississippi State has less at 80.7 a game. In addition, they are dead last in yards per carry at 2.41.

With the running game struggling, new offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello’s needed his quarterback to step up. So far Will Levis has answered in a big way. In four games Levis has completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 1,185 yards and 10 touchdowns. He tied a career-high with four TDs in the victory over Northern Illinois. However, he does have four interceptions with a couple of those coming in the red zone.

His favorite targets are Tayvion Robinson, who ranks third in the SEC with 349 receiving yards. Right behind him are the freshmen “Dynamic Duo” Barion Brown and Dane Key. Between the two they have 28 receptions for 442 yards and five touchdowns. The Rebels are tied for second in the league with four interceptions so ball control’s going to be a key.

Continuing on with our Kentucky versus Ole Miss Preview let’s now take a look at the home team.

Scouting The Rebels

Lane Kiffin’s squad comes into Saturday also with a 4-0 record. They opened with a 28-10 win over Troy then followed with routs of 59-3 and 42-0 over Central Arkansas and Georgia Tech respectively. Much like Kentucky, they struggled last week in a 35-27 win over Tulsa.

Usually, Kiffin-led teams are high-octane passing attacks. However, in 2022 it’s the opposite as they are beating teams with the ground game. Behind Zach Evans and Quinshon Judkins, the Rebels are fourth in college football with 281 yards a game. So far in 2022 Judkins has 429 yards on the ground and five touchdowns. Evans is right behind him with 365 yards and four scores.

When the Rebels do throw the ball the man under center is Jaxson Dart. He’s thrown for 697 yards and five touchdowns with only two interceptions. In addition, he’s a strong runner with 201 yards on the ground.

One of Dart’s favorite targets is Jonathan Mingo, who’s averaging 21 yards a reception to go along with a score. Malik Heath has 13 receptions on the year and three touchdowns. One other player to watch is the tight end, Michael Trigg. The USC transfer has three scores as well.

On the other side of the ball, the Ole Miss defense ranks 29th in the country giving up 313 yards a game. Linebacker Troy Brown is the leading tackler with 29 while defensive back Tysheem Johnson is a close second with 27.

Now that we’ve told you what to look for with both teams as we continue with our Kentucky versus Ole Miss preview let’s look at the series history.

Series History And Last Time They Met

Overall Ole Miss holds a 28-14 lead over Kentucky with one tie, which happened in 1952. Recently the Rebels have a big advantage winning six of the last eight and two in a row. Both of those times it was heartbreak for the Cats. Two years ago a missed extra point in overtime gave the Rebels one point victory. In 2017 Jordan Ta’amu hit D.K. Metcalf with five seconds to go for a 37-34 win.

Kentucky’s last victory came in 2011 when they easily won 30-13 in Lexington. The last time the Cats won in Oxford was 24-17 in 1978. Although, UK’s biggest ever SEC road win in terms of margin came back in 1949 when they won 47-0.

There’s only one thing left in our Kentucky versus Ole Miss preview and that’s to pick a winner.

Who Wins On Saturday?

For all of Stoops’ accomplishments at Kentucky, a few things still elude him. One of those is winning a road game at an SEC West school. So far the UK head man is 0-10 versus the west. In fact, you have to go back to 2009 when Kentucky beat Auburn 21-14 for the school’s last win. If you are keeping score that’s 14 straight.

Having Rodriguez back is a major plus for the Wildcats as you expect he’ll help with the rushing game and red zone issues. Though Stoops tempered expectations saying “C-Rod” only needed to be solid, not Superman.

The Rebels are having a “Stripe Out” on Saturday and are breaking out new helmets.

If you didn’t know better you’d think the Kentucky basketball team was coming to town with all the special things going on. Reports of 10,000 UK fans heading to “The Grove” may ruin their planned fun. Kentucky’s defense will get a big test from Ole Miss on Saturday. At the end of the day, a rested and ready Rodriguez leads the Cats to a win and Stoops crosses another thing off his list.

Kentucky 28-24

Thanks for checking out our Kentucky versus Ole Miss preview here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll have a full recap and also update our latest bowl projections. Currently, we have the Wildcats in the Sugar Bowl and the Rebels in the Texas Bowl.