For week 2 of the season, Kentucky will be opening the gates of Kroger Field and the Ole Miss Rebels will be heading to Lexington.
Both teams are looking for their first wins of the season, as the Wildcats come into the game 0-1 afters losing last week at #8 Auburn, 29-13, and Ole Miss losing to #3 Florida, 51-35. While each team faced a top program inside the conference, Kentucky is projected as the favorite by 6 points, and I think that is a fair judgment of these programs. Ole Miss will be one our three "easiest" games this season, and on paper it's a lock for Kentucky. If Kentucky were to lose this one, fans would likely start to give up on the season due to a slow start.
Ole Miss is coached by Lane Kiffin, who was hired in by the program in December of 2019, coming from Florida Atlantic University. The last time Kiffin brought one of his teams to Lexington, Kentucky lost on a missed field goal in overtime, extending Tennessee's winning streak over Kentucky to 26 straight games. It was a classic heartbreaking loss to the Vols that still leaves some disgusts in fans mouth to this day. That November loss 11 years ago hasn't been forgotten, and Kentucky isn't planning on letting Lane Kiffin leave with another win from Lexington.
Learning about Ole Miss:
During Ole Miss' first game of the season, they gave up 6 touchdowns and 416 yards to Florida QB Kyle Trask, who completed 30 of his 42 passes. An absolute nightmare if you're on the defensive side of that. This will be a great game for Terry Wilson to showcase his passing game, and to prove to the Terry haters that he's still got it, and tag out with his 13th win at Kentucky.
Ole Miss had a slightly impressive offensive game versus Florida, although it just wasn't enough to win the game. QB Matt Corral threw for 395 yards and 3 touchdowns, while WR Elijah Moore received 227 of those yards. Definitely a two-punch combo Kentucky will need to prepare for in their secondary and across the line. Their run game was limited to 116 yards distribute amongst three running backs, in Jerrion Ealy, Jarod Conner and Tylan Knight.
Kentucky's Keys to Winning:
Kentucky's secondary defense: Kentucky's defense is among some of the best across the conference, but last week vs. Auburn they showed some clear signs of rust after months after 9 month of an offseason, and that should be off and ready to go this weekend. They'll need to stop the passing game of Ole Miss, and limit Matt Corral to under 200 passing yards, and I believe they'll win this game.
Terry Wilson's turnovers: Kentucky tends to beat themselves on some plays, on fumbles, missed catches, and interceptions. Last week Terry Wilson threw one interception that seemed to be forced, and also fumbled the football twice, one coming from a drive that would've put them up if they had scored. Auburn scored on all three of the turnovers committed by Kentucky, and that'll continue to happen all season long if he doesn't hang on to the ball. Limit the turnovers, and stick to your strengths.
The run game: In my opinion, Stoops needs to showcase what his talented group of running backs can do. Kentucky didn't get to show the Tigers much of their arsenal behind the QB, in a talented group that can be switched out through Kavosiey Smoke, Chris Rodriguez and AJ Rose. All three guys could start for Kentucky, and if they can figure out how to use them to their strengths, that'll be just another weapon the Cats will have.
Kentucky vs. Ole Miss will kick-off at 4:00 pm on the SEC Network inside of Kroger Field as the Wildcats look to get their first win of the season, and bring Mark Stoops to 45-45 at Kentucky.
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