College Football Game of the Week: No. 7 Kentucky vs. No. 14 Ole Miss
A matchup of two ranked SEC teams will be one to watch this Saturday as the No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats will pay a visit to Vaught Hemingway Stadium to take on No. 14 Ole Miss at noon.
The Wildcats (4-0, 1-0) are coming off a non-conference victory against Northern Illinois, but Kentucky had its hands full.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis capped another stellar performance, as he went 18-for-26, throwing for 303 yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats’ 31-23 victory at home.
Despite being a 26-point favorite, Kentucky found a way to win, similar to its week two victory against then-ranked Florida in the Swamp.
Meanwhile, Ole Miss (4-0, 0-0) will have its first true test of the season after its defense showed a few cracks against a 35-27 victory against Tulsa this past Saturday.
The Rebels should’ve easily put Tulsa away, but Golden Hurricane quarterback Davis Brin exited the game in the second quarter with an injury.
Ole Miss scored 28 points in the second quarter alone, but went scoreless in the second half. It was enough, but Ole Miss will need to play a more complete game this time.
The last matchup between Kentucky and Ole Miss came in 2020, when the game went to overtime knotted up at 35 apiece. The Rebels took advantage of a TD pass from Matt Corral and Ole Miss surged to a 42-41 victory on the road.
If one thing’s for sure, the Rebels love to run. The run game the Rebels bring has been their identities after last season. Ole Miss is currently 4th nationally with 280.75 rushing yards per game, which is also 3rd nationally in all FBS.
Ole Miss running back Quinshon Judkins has been a workhorse. It took 27 carries, but Judkins darted for 140 yards in the win against Tulsa.
Quarterback Jaxson Dart serves as a tailback of his own, as he scurried for 116 yards on 13 attempts. Dart was impressive this past weekend, as he threw for over 150 yards and collected two touchdowns.
Kentucky is ranked 30th nationally against the run, and 4th in surrendering only three touchdowns on the ground.
Will Levis’ NFL-caliber arm will put the Rebels to the test on Saturday, as Levis also boasts the ability to move inside the pocket and cause confusion on the defense.
Kentucky’s offensive line has been underwhelming in 2022, as it is 123rd in run yards per game, 125th in yards per rush, and 129th in sacks allowed.
Levis is more than capable of getting rid of the ball fast and accurately, but it all comes down to pocket protection.
Ole Miss has gotten through Troy, Central Arkansas, Georgia Tech, and Tulsa. Although most of these opponents didn’t put up a challenge, Ole Miss will depend on the strong defensive line that has maintained its reputation from a season ago.
The Rebels will also look to take advantage of a fast start, as head coach Lane Kiffin holds a 15-2 record when scoring first, and a 4-6 record when not.
Kentucky is looking to rebound after its sluggish performance against Northern Illinois, but the offensive line will need to execute to give Levis time in the pocket.
The Wildcats will have their star running back, Chris Rodriguez Jr., who is returning after a four-game suspension.
This will be the first ranked matchup between these teams since the 1958 season, when No. 9 Ole Miss took down No. 17 Kentucky, 27-6.
Connor Fenix is a senior majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email email@example.com.