Prediction, Preview, and Odds
#175 Kentucky vs.
#176 Ole Miss
Saturday, October 1, 2022 at 12:00pm EDT
Written by Mark Ruelle

The #7 Kentucky Wildcats take to the road to battle the #14 Ole Miss Rebels in an SEC showdown on Saturday. Kentucky comes into the game at 4-0 overall and 1-0 in conference play. Ole Miss is also 4-0 on the season but this will be their first conference game of the season. The opening kick is scheduled for 12:00pm EST.

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Winning Ways

Kentucky has forever been a basketball school and that is unlikely to change anytime soon but over the past few seasons, head coach Mark Stoops and his Wildcats team have put football back on the map. On Saturday, the Wildcats took down a tougher-than-expected NIU squad in a 31-23 home win that improved the Wildcats to 4-0 heading into this Saturday's showdown in Mississippi.

"You know, obviously not the finish that we were looking for. I think that kind of puts a bad taste in everybody’s mouth who was sitting there. We’re up 17 with eight minutes to go in the game and you’re feeling pretty decent, and I think at that point in time we punted. And, obviously, they hit the big, explosive play on the first down ... They come back and get the explosive play when we were up 14 and we knew the absolute exact play that was coming. And, if I’m not mistaken, the corner and one of our defenders ran into each other and created the explosive play, which is not good in that situation. You got to make them work for their yards. I thought the — you know, the beginning of the game was sluggish for us, letting them drive down and score. Offensively, came out — again, just didn’t do much early in the first half. And, just overall, just a sluggish game. Good to get it behind us." Stoops said in his post-game press conference.

Senior quarterback Will Levis was the story with four touchdown passes on the night on 18-of-26 completions for 303 yards. Two Kentucky wide receivers had big nights as Tayvion Robinson had seven grabs for 147 yards and two touchdowns while freshman Barion Brown had four catches for 102 yards and two touchdowns himself. Running back Kavosiey Smoke rushed for 85 yards on 12 carries to supplement the passing attack. The Wildcats had 406 yards of total offense on the night.

Defensively, the Wildcats held the scrappy NIU team to 327 yards total yards and three scores. The Wildcats defense was relatively quiet on the evening, as they were unable to generate any turnovers and the Wildcats failed to generate any sacks and only had one tackle for a loss in the game.

The undefeated Wildcats will face their second-ranked team this season as they roll into Ole Miss. Here are some of the key numbers to digest so far this season for the Wildcats. Kentucky is 48th in scoring offense and 91st in total offense. Kentucky' rushing offense is ranked 113th while its passing offense is ranked a more solid 43rd in the country. On the defensive side of the ball, Kentucky's scoring defense is ranked 21st in the country and their total defense is ranked an impressive 17th. Against the run, the Wildcats are ranked 43rd while they are ranked 16th against the pass. Finally, Kentucky is ranked 7th in the country overall.

 

Rebel Yell

After rolling over their first three opponents by a combined score of 129-13, the Ole Miss Rebels squeaked out a tight battle, 35-27, over Tulsa on Saturday afternoon. After trailing 14-7 after one quarter, the Rebels exploded for 28 points in the second quarter to roll on to a surprisingly hard-fought, one-score win.

“The bottom line is we are 4-0 and that’s the best you can be,” Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin said in his post-game press conference. “It’s a lot better than being 2-2 which is what a lot of people around the country are right now.”

Quarterback Jaxson Dart finished the afternoon 13-of-24 passing with 154 yards and complimented that with 116 yards rushing on 13 carries. Running back Quinshon Judkins had a big day on the ground as well with 140 yards rushing on 27 carries. Judkins ran for two touchdowns while Dart threw two touchdown passes on the day. The Rebels finished the day with 462 total yards of offense in an inconsistent performance.

Defensively, AJ Finley had an interception in the game but the Rebels did not record a sack and had just two tackles for loss. They allowed 457 yards of offense to Tulsa but held them to just 4-of-13 on third down conversions.

Ole Miss will get its first major test at home this week against a seasoned Kentucky squad. Here is a look at the key numbers for the Rebels heading into this contest. Ole Miss is 30th in scoring offense and 16th in total offense. Their rushing offense is ranked 2nd in the country while their passing offense is ranked 105th. On the defensive side of the ball, the Rebels are ranked 7th in scoring defense and 34th in total defense. Against the run, Ole Miss' defense is ranked 43rd and against the pass, they are ranked 51st. In the turnover differential department, Ole Miss is currently ranked 85th overall.

 

 

 

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Full-Game Side Bet

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Kentucky has been one of the better teams in the country against the run. Ole Miss has the second-best rushing offense in the country. This will be the true, first test of the season for Ole Miss in their SEC opener. The key to the game will be whether or not the Wildcats can get some kind of ground game established so they can give quarterback Will Levis time to throw the ball. Ole Miss has been solid against the pass thus far but this is by far the best passing attack they've seen this season. The winner of this game remains a viable college playoff candidate while the loser will be relegated, likely, to playing for a New Year's Day bowl game. The line seems high to me. Kentucky played an outstanding game in the Swamp against a Florida team that now looks to have been slightly overrated but it's a bigger jump in competition than anything Ole Miss has seen. I think the Rebels will squeak out a tight win, but 7 points is far too much. This is a field goal game that could go either way.

Take the points (+6.5) and Kentucky.

Prediction: Kentucky +7

Full-Game Total Pick

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While Ole Miss head coach Lane Kiffin has made his bones as an offensive guru, he has a very good defense this season. His offense is also predicated on running the ball which inevitably moves the clock. Kentucky has also had a solid defense this year, ranked 17th in the country. I expect this game to be more similar to the Kentucky-Florida game earlier this season with a total that finished at 42 points. Kentucky was able to bottle up the Florida ground game, which is ranked 26th in the country. I don't believe they will entirely stop the Rebels' ground attack but I do know they will slow them down. Kentucky will also try to establish their own ground attack and should benefit from the return of Chris Rodriguez in this game from his four-game suspension to start the season. With both teams establishing the run, the clock will move and possessions will be precious.

Take the under, 54.5 points.

Prediction: Under 54.5
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Written By Mark Ruelle , "Mark Ruelle"

Mark has been a sports fanatic since childhood. He is also an avid follower of sports analytics and has used it in his own betting analysis for over two decades. Now we have Mark on our team here at Stat Salt. He holds degrees in marketing, broadcasting, and English and uses this vast array of assets to dissect and analyze game matchups. Mark will provide you with a wide variety of statistics to consider and a strong opinion in each matchup that he covers. Please follow him daily for an up-to-the-minute analysis of all the important games.