Ole Miss vs. Kentucky Week 5 college football preview, prediction
How to watch
What: Sat., Oct. 1
Time: 12 p.m. Eastern
TV: ESPN network
Stream: fuboTV (Start your free trial)
Odds, point spread, betting lines
Line: Ole Miss -6.5
Moneyline: MISS -300 UK +200
FPI pick: Ole Miss 78.5%
Ole Miss vs. Kentucky: What you need to know
1. Ole Miss wants to run. That's been the team's offensive identity after all the changeover from last season. Lane Kiffin says his system is based on controlling tempo on the ground, and the Rebels are coming off a 316 yard performance vs. Georgia Tech. Ole Miss is 4th nationally with 280.75 rushing yards per game, has scored 15 times on the ground and has 3 players over 200 yards, including quarterback Jaxson Dart. Kentucky is a respectable 30th nationally against the run (108.2 ypg allowed) and 4th in surrendering just 3 TDs on the ground, and looked good against Florida's talented backs, a good omen when facing this week's opponent.
2. UK's returning star. Chris Rodriguez should be back on the field for the first time this season after sitting through a suspension since kickoff. Rodriguez had 1,379 yards a year ago and scored nine of UK's 27 rushing TDs. Getting him back brings needed balance to a Kentucky offense that has not fared as well running the ball without its primary threat, averaging just 2.4 yards per carry and under 82 yards per game on the ground.
3. Big Blue Wall. In recent years, Kentucky has fielded one of college football's premier offensive lines, physical and well-coordinated, the engine behind the school's resurgence under Mark Stoops. So far this fall, it's underwhelmed: 123rd in run yards per game, 125th in yards per rush, and 129th in sacks allowed. Will Levis is more than capable of getting the ball out quick and accurately, but grinding out these games in the SEC depends on your ability to protect the pocket and open running lanes. This week is a crucial first test against a good Rebels' front seven alignment.
Ole Miss vs. Kentucky: Fast Facts
+ Kentucky is 11th in scoring defense (13.0 ppg)
+ Rebels back Quinshon Judkins is 2nd nationally with 33 missed tackles forced
+ UK is 15th in passing efficiency (137.97) on offense
+ Ole Miss is 6th nationally allowing both 0.50 sacks per game and 10 points per game
+ The home team has won 4 of the last 6 in the series
+ Ole Miss is 4th in FBS with 280.8 rushing yards per game
+ Kentucky is 16th nationally in total defense, allowing 272 yards per game
+ Ole Miss is 15-2 under Kiffin when scoring first and 4-6 when not
+ This is the first game when both teams are ranked since 1958: No. 9 Ole Miss beat No. 17 Kentucky, 27-6, that year
+ Rebels are 15-3 under Kiffin scoring 30-plus points and 11-8 when allowing 20-plus
+ Ole Miss is 1-2 under Kiffin when it has 3-plus turnovers and 18-6 when it has fewer than 3
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Prediction
Will Levis has an NFL-caliber arm that will test the Rebels' back seven early and often, and boasts the mobility and pace to move inside the pocket and throw defenders out of alignment.
But the Wildcats' offensive line is still a genuine concern. It allowed 5 sacks to Northern Illinois and goes against a Rebel pass rush that has maintained its gains from a year ago.
Chris Rodriguez coming back is a major boost to UK's attack as it helps balance things out and takes pressure off Levis, but the line may have trouble keeping those running lanes open, especially on the interior.
Ole Miss is allowing the 10th fewest yards per play and on the attack has the skill pieces and the variety to move the chains consistently enough to keep Levis and Co. off the field.
College Football HQ Prediction: Ole Miss 30, Kentucky 24
College football rankings
According to AP top 25 poll
- Ohio State
- Oklahoma State
- NC State
- Penn State
- Ole Miss
- Texas A&M
- Wake Forest
- Florida State
- Kansas State