Kentucky carries a 6-2 record into Saturday’s contest versus Ole Miss. After the victory against Tennessee, will they capitalize on their momentum? Let’s take a look:
· 338 Passing Yards-Per-Game (2,705 passing yards in eight games)
· 17:10 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio in on the year
· 64.1% Completion Percentage on 301 pass attempts (37.6 per game)
These stats don’t look too bad on the surface. The problem is their star player, and former #1 QB recruit Shea Patterson, is out for the year with a knee injury. Jordan Ta’amu is the starter now. His stat line against Arkansas was less than inspiring: 20-30 for 368 yards, 0 touchdowns and 1 interception. He will face a much stiffer task this weekend playing at Kroger Field.
· 187 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,494 passing yards in eight games)
· 9:4 Touchdown-to-Interception Ratio
· 59% Completion Percentage on 207 pass attempts (26 per game)
Stephen Johnson is coming off the worst two game stretch of his season passing the ball. He threw two interceptions against Mississippi State and only completed six passes against Tennessee. Still, Johnson is one of the most reliable football players in the SEC, and shouldn’t have to throw the ball much against one of the worst rush defenses in college football.
· 4.2 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 230 attempts
· 122.9 Rushing-Yards-Per Game (983 rushing yards in eight games)
· 12 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
Jordan Wilkins will be the primary ball-carrier for the Ole Miss Rebels. The senior running back has 586 yards on only 100 carries this year. Kentucky will have to prepare for the dual-threat Ta’amu as well. Ta’amu has 128 yards on 15 carries and two touchdwons.
· 4.2 Rushing Yards-Per-Attempt on 294 attempts
· 154.3 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,234 rushing yards in eight games)
· 13 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
Benny Snell Jr. is coming off his best game of the year against Tennessee. He put up a stat line of 27-180-3, and should find similar daylight against Ole Miss. Stephen Johnson had 84 yards and a touchdown against Tennessee. The offense should have another fruitful day on the ground Saturday.
· A.J. Brown: 41 receptions, 765 yards, 6 TDs, Sophomore
· DaMarkus Lodge: 28 receptions, 511 yards, 6 TDs, Junior
· D.K. Metcalf: 30 receptions, 479 yards, 4 TDs, Freshman
Ole Miss has a very youthful receiving core that is capable of scoring at any time. The problem is that most of this production, and all of the receiving touchdowns, came with Shea Patterson under the helm. They will have a tough time against a battle tested Wildcat secondary.
· Garrett Johnson: 33 receptions, 371 yards, 2 TDs, Senior
· C.J. Conrad: 9 receptions, 195 yards, 3 TDs, Junior
· Blake Bone: 12 receptions, 189, 2 TDs, Senior
The receiving core of Kentucky may be the weakest on the team. Conrad hasn’t logged a catch since the Florida game, and potential All-SEC receiver Garrett Johnson only has 38 yards in the last two games. I don’t expect a huge statistical outpour from the group as Ole Miss should be beaten on the ground.
· 37.5 Points-Per-Game (300 points in eight games)
· 207 Passing Yards-Per-Game (1,656 passing yards in eight games)
· 260.5 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (2,084 rushing yards in eight games)
· 15 Passing Touchdowns, 19 Rushing Touchdowns in eight games
· 5 Interceptions, 7 Forced Fumbles, 2 Fumble Recoveries
· 43.5% Third Down Conversion Rate
This Ole Miss defense is pretty poor. They give up 467 yards-a-game, and their rushing defense is one of the worst in the country. Fourth worst, to be precise. They don’t force turnovers, and they are 100th in the nation at giving up 3rd downs. Kentucky should have a field day against this defense.
· 24.9 Points-Per-Game (199 points in eight games)
· 266.6 Passing Yards-Per-Game (2,133 passing yards in eight games)
· 133.5 Rushing Yards-Per-Game (1,068 rushing yards in eight games)
· 13 Passing Touchdowns, 11 Rushing Touchdowns
· 6 Interceptions, 9 Forced Fumbles, 7 Fumble Recoveries
· 39% Third Down Conversion Rate
Kentucky’s rushing defense suffered a huge statistical blow in the Mississippi State defeat. That’s not the problem, as Mississippi State is one of the best rushing teams in the country. That happens. The concern is that the Wildcats haven’t forced a turnover since the Missouri game. Ole Miss is without their best player, quarterback Shea Patterson, so this unit should be able to handle this Rebel offense. If not, I would be worried about the unit down the stretch.
· Ole Miss is averaging seven penalties a game on the year
· The Rebels are only converting 35% of their third downs on offense
· Mississippi is losing the time of possession battle 25:46 to 35:04
· Kentucky has scored on 22-of-24 redzone trips
· The Wildcats only have five punt returns on the year
· The PAT team has been perfect on the year (22-22)
Kentucky has a glaring advantage against Ole Miss: the rushing attack. Mississippi is horrible at defending the run, and Kentucky has one of the best QB-RB rushing tandems in the SEC. Ole Miss does not control the clock, and Eddie Gran loves using the run to control the game. The formula is cut-and-dry. Run the ball, win the game.
Time: 4pm EST
Where: Kroger Field, Lexington, Ky
Television: SEC Network
Weather: High of 71, 50% chance of rain, scattered thunderstorms
All statistics retrieved from cfbstats.com.