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Ole Miss Week Five Opponent Preview: Kentucky Wildcats

Our college football preview series continues this week with the Rebels' week five matchup.
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After enjoying what should be an easy start to the 2022 college football season, the Ole Miss Rebels welcome their first SEC opponent of the season to Oxford, Miss., in week five: the Kentucky Wildcats.

In 2021, the Wildcats won 10 games for the first time since 2018 under coach Mark Stoops. Stoops is the longest-tenured coach in the SEC behind Alabama Crimson Tide coach Nick Saban. Under Stoops, Kentucky is preparing to put the rest of the SEC on notice in 2022 and prove that 2021 was not a fluke. It helps that the Wildcats have a quarterback who is already getting first-round hype for the 2023 NFL Draft, Will Levis. Kentucky started the 2021 season hot, rolling to a 6-0 start, and later made it to the Citrus Bowl versus the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Here's an overview of the Kentucky team that will travel to Oxford, Miss., on Oct. 1.

Kentucky Wildcats

2021 Record: 10-3 (5-3 in SEC)

Head Coach: Mark Stoops (tenth season)

Stoops is 59-53 in his time at Kentucky.

Returning Offensive Leaders 

Passing: Will Levis 

After three spending three seasons with the Penn State Nittany Lions as a backup, Kentucky quarterback Will Levis got his shot to start in the SEC and he led his team to a 10-3 record. In 2021, Levis threw for 2,826 yards, 24 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions.

Rushing: Chris Rodriguez Jr.

Rodriguez: 225 carries, 1,379 yards, nine touchdowns, averaged 6.1 yards per carry

Receiving: Demarcus Harris

Harris: 12 receptions, 150 yards, one touchdown, averaged 12.5 yards per reception

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Kentucky is set at quarterback and running back, but their receiving core will be a weakness in 2022. Former Wildcat leading receiver Wan'Dale Robinson was selected in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, and receiver Josh Ali is no longer on the team. The only returning receiver on the Wildcat roster who has caught a touchdown pass is receiver Demarcus Harris.

Returning Defensive Leaders

Tackles: Jacquez Jones 

Jones: 86 tackles, 3.5 TFLs

Interceptions: J.J. Weaver 

Weaver: two interceptions

Sacks: J.J. Weaver 

Weaver: 6.5 sacks, 10.5 TFLs

Ole Miss Rebels

2021 Record: 10-3 (6-2 in SEC)

Head Coach: Lane Kiffin (third season)

Kiffin is 15-8 in his time at Ole Miss.

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