The Kentucky Wildcats (3-1, 0-1) travel south this week to Oxford, Mississippi to take on the Ole Miss Rebels (2-2, 0-1) in a 12:20 EST kickoff. The Cats, coming off a 48-14 drubbing at the hands of the Florida Gators will be looking to regain some much needed momentum going into a tough three-game home stand, and the Rebs will try to build on an (offensively) impressive 55-38 victory over Fresno State last week.
For a look at the Rebel personnel and pertinent statistics, and a prediction, follow me after the jump:
The Rebel Offensive
Quarterback Jeremiah Masoli: 5-11, 220 lb senior -- The Oregon transfer has thrown for 733 yards on the year, completing 48 of 77 passes (62.3%) with five interceptions and three touchdowns. He's also the Rebels' second leading rusher with 219 yards on 41 carries (5.3 yards per carry) and two touchdowns. Masoli ranks third in total offense in the SEC with 238.0 yards per game. For his career, Masoli has rushed for 1,605 yards.
As Glenn wrote a couple of days ago about Masoli, he is a "very, very dangerous" player. Both accurate with his arm (although he has fits of "Favre-itis") and quick with his legs, Masoli's game is the definition of a dual-threat quarterback. A First Team All-Pac 10 selection in 2009, Masoli gives Ole Miss their best chance at winning, not only this game, but every game they play.
Running back Brandon Bolden: 5-11, 215 lb junior -- Bolden has rushed for 410 yards (4th SEC) on 53 carries (7.7 ypc) and four touchdowns. He's also caught nine passes for 107 yards (11.9 yards per reception) and one touchdown. For his career, Bolden has ran for 1,566 yards on 280 carries (5.6 ypc) and 13 (rushing) touchdowns.
The only thing I can think of to write is: Kentucky's defense cannot allow Bolden to have a career game. He's a powerful, quick, downhill runner who has a nose for the end zone and just enough attitude to carry you there on his back.
Last week against Fresno State (not a terribly bad team) Bolden went nuclear, running for 228 yards on only 19 carries (12.0 ypc), and a couple of scores. He comes anywhere near those numbers against Kentucky today, and the Cats will have used up at least seven of their nine lives.
Running back Enrique Davis: 6-0, 220 lb junior -- Davis has logged 41 carries for 144 yards (3.5 ypc) and three touchdowns.
Wide receiver Markeith Summers: 6-3, 205 lb senior -- UM's leading receiver, Summers has caught 10 passes for 23.5 yards and two touchdowns.
Summers is a big target and gains yards after the catch.
Wide receiver Jesse Grandy: 5-10, 165 lb sophomore -- Grandy has caught nine passes for 133 yards (14.8) and one touchdown. The Rebel speedster also returns punts -- three for 34 yards (11.3 yard per return) and a touchdown -- and kick-offs, 10 for 235 yards (23.5 ypr, 5th SEC). Grandy averages 110.2 all-purpose yards per game.
A dangerous weapon because of his speed and durability, the Cats' special teams and secondary must account for Grandy's whereabouts at all times. He's 165 pounds, somebody needs to stick him hard, and make him think twice about catching that pass across the middle.
Wide receiver Melvin Harris: 6-7!!, 205 lb sophomore -- Harris has recorded seven catches for 124 yards and two touchdowns.
Two things about Harris strike me: 1) He's 6-7, and 2) he's made two touchdown grabs, and only seven receptions. That's a pretty darn good ratio.
DB's wearing white, beware of the fade with this guy.
Linebacker Jonathan Cornell: 6-1, 235 lb senior -- The SEC leading tackler, Cornell has recorded 39 tackles, 8.0 tackles for loss (2nd SEC), and 3.0 sacks.
Linebacker D.T. Shackleford: 6-1, 235 lb sophomore -- Shackleford has 2.5 sacks and 4.0 tackles for loss on the year.
Defensive back Allen Walker: 6-1, 230 lb freshman -- Walker has made 29 tackles, 3.0 tackles for loss, and 2.0 sacks.
This kid comes with some credentials: Out of high school last year, Walker was the 4th rated "athlete" in the nation by PrepStar; he was a SuperPrep and Tom Lemmings' All-America; the No. 4 rated safety and the 23rd best player overall by ESPN.com.
Safety Johnny Brown: 6-0, 212 lb senior -- Brown has a respectable four pass breakups this season, to go along with 20 tackles.
Ole Miss starting defensive end and team captain, Kentrell Lockett (6-5, 260 lb senior), will miss the remainder of the season after tearing his ACL in last week's win versus Fresno State.
Ole Miss averages 36.0 points per game and gives up 32.0 ... The Rebels average 5.3 yards per carry, Rebel opponents average 3.3 ... The Ole Miss defense allows 233.2 yards passing per game to opposing quarterbacks ... UM averages 454.0 yards per game of total offense ... Ole Miss has recorded zero interceptions ... UM opponents are 11-15 (73.3%) in red zone touchdowns, 13-15 (86.7%) in red zone scores ... Mississippi has sacked the quarterback 13 times, but given up only three sacks (probably has something to do with Masoli's athleticism) ... The Rebels lost in the first game of the season to Jacksonville State (49-48 2OT) after leading 31-10 at halftime.
I believe a shootout awaits -- I'll go with the Cats, 33-31.
Thanks for reading and Go Cats!