Ole Miss and Kentucky will kickoff in less than 24 hours, and all of Oxford is buzzing, literally and figuratively, over the biggest game of the season to date.
SEC play has come with the No. 7 Wildcats invading the Grove, the Vaught and Oxford to play the No. 14 Ole Miss Rebels. Suspended running back Chris Rodriguez figures to be an ample bump in offensive output for Kentucky, but the Ole Miss defense has been a highlight of the season thus far allowing only 10 points per game.
Sophomore Jaxson Dart will start at quarterback in a job he has slowly but surely won over backup Luke Altmyer. Dart has had some inconsistency with deeper routes, and the Rebel offense continues to be more focused on its run game behind the three headed monster of Zach Evans, Quinshon Judkins and Ulysses Bentley IV.
Dart’s ability to run has shown up at times when needed on run-pass option calls as well, which could catch what is normally a staunch UK defense flat-footed. The Rebels are going to need the offense to do more heavy lifting and be a little more balanced today compared to the previous four weeks.
On the flip side, Kentucky has already logged an SEC win, but it struggled mightily against Northern Illinois just last week. RB Rodriguez will likely have a lot of rust to knock off, and his physical condition is unknown as far as how much he’ll be able to be a workhorse today after so much time off.
The Wildcats are replacing a ton on its offensive line as well, and it shows as UK has given up sacks and pressures by the bunches. Ole Miss’ defensive attack should surely live in the backfield on passing plays if defensive coordinator Chris Partridge decides to ratchet up the blitz calls in a crucial SEC contest.
The last time these two teams tangled was in Lexington when a failed extra point was the difference in overtime, and Ole Miss captured a 42-41 win in Lane Kiffin’s first SEC victory as the Rebels head coach.
More interesting bit of history, the last time these two teams played each other and both were ranked? Good ole 1958, for Pete’s sake.
It seems like this game could end up being the battle for the third best team in the SEC after Alabama and Georgia. There is no doubt it will be a slugfest between two tenured head coaches who are taking programs to consistent new heights in the toughest conference in the country. Should be a helluva game, cheers!
How to watch
Where: Vaught-Hemingway Stadium, Oxford, Miss.
When: 11 am CT
Online streaming: WatchESPN