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Ole Miss Rebels vs Kentucky Wildcats: 5 keys to victory, odds, expert picks, analysis, predictions

Can the Cats score their seventh win?

Tennessee v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Cats are going bowling for the second straight season and they are looking to keep rolling this weekend past the Ole Miss Rebels.

Kentucky has had a couple changes made to the depth chart going into this weekend’s game. Lonnie Johnson is now replacing Chris Westry at Cornerback and Quinton Bohanna will be replacing Pringle and Elam at nose guard. Even though center, Drake Jackson has started the past two games, he has been moved up to the No. 1 spot on the depth chart.

The Ole Miss Rebels are not the same Ole Miss Rebels we all have learned to respect here lately. Ole Miss is 3-5 and lost after being up 28 points last weekend against Arkansas. But, one thing is for sure, they have a lot of offense. Ole Miss is averaging 461 yards-per-game on offense. On the flipside of that, they are also giving up an insane 260 rushing yards-per-game, ranking 126th in Division I-FBS.

Kentucky is currently a 3.5-point favorite to beat the Rebels this weekend, but many people believe it’s going to be a tough game for the Wildcats. If the Cats are going to get the W at Kroger Field Saturday night, here is how they need to do that:

Run the ball down their throat

As I mentioned in the beginning of the article, Ole Miss is ranked 126th in the country in rushing defense behind Tennessee at 125th, and we all know that Benny Snell had one of the best games of his career last weekend against Tennessee.

Ole Miss is giving up 260 yards-per-game on the ground, and I expect Benny Snell is going to have the game of his life. Ole Miss is giving up over 100 yards-per-game rushing before first contact! Benny Snell runs at his best after first contact, can you imagine what he can do this weekend against the Rebels if they can’t even touch him until he’s made it to the second level.

Lockdown Ole Miss Receivers

The Ole Miss receiving core, is probably one of the best in the country. But, they are led by sophomore receiver, A.J. Brow. Brown has caught 41 passes this season for 765 yards. Brown has also caught six touchdown passes.

Defensive backs Lonnie Johnson and Derrick Baity will definitely have their hands full this weekend. Four players for ole miss have over 340 receiving yards on the season: Brown has 765 yards, Jefferson has 345 yards, Lodge has 511 yards and six touchdowns and Metcalf has 479 yards receiving with four touchdowns. Ole Miss is averaging 338 yards-per-game through the air. This is a huge week for Lonnie Johnson to step up and show the UK Coaching staff that they done the right thing for putting him No. 1 on the depth chart over Westry.

Defensive Line gets into backfield

Ole Miss has the No. 1 offensive line prospect out of high school from two years ago, Greg Little, the teams tackle and leading blocker and is All SEC as left tackle. With Qb, Shea Patterson out, many people thought Ole Miss would have no passing game. Jordan Ta’amu will disagree with that, as he has 444 yards passing and two touchdowns in two games as the starter for the Rebels.

The Rebels rank 8th in the country in passing. But, Ole Miss has also given up 20 sacks, which is 9th in the SEC. If that says one thing to me, it says UK can get pressure on Ta’amu with mid-season All American, Josh Allen and with defensive end, Denzil Ware. If the cats can put some pressure on Ta’amu and can disrupt the backfield, I can definitely see the Cats getting the big W at Kroger Field.

Win the turnover battle

Kentucky has had a great turnover margin all year until last weekend. Last weekend, Kentucky had a +8 turnover margin, but had 4 turnovers last gamer alone against Tennessee. Ole Miss Ranks 16th in the country in fumbles given up, with only 3 and that also ranks 3rd in the SEC.

Ole Miss has a back-up quarterback in the game, and overall not a great offensive line. Kentucky has a very good defensive line, so it should balance out, but I just hope it’s in Kentucky’s favor. One thing to note, Ole Miss Ranks last in the SEC in total Defense, so if Kentucky does win the turnover battle, I suspect they will win the battle against the rebel Defense.

Remember C.J. Conrad

Honestly, I sound like a broken record. Every week I put this key in my 5 keys. That’s because I truly believe it is very important to get C.J. Conrad involved in the game. Don’t get me wrong, Conrad is a very good blocker, but if that’s the only way we use our top-10 tight end, then there needs to be changes made.

Johnson started out the season with over 150 receiving yards, and in the last four games, he has not caught a single pass. One pass!! Come on Eddie Gran. Please stop doing this to me. Conrad is such a big and athletic target for Stephen Johnson to hit. Why not get him involved… At least ONCE a game. Come on man. That’s all.

Now, the Cats definitely have their hands full and I can see the Cats winning big and I almost want to even predict that. But this week, I know Eddie Gran is going to use Conrad. Conrad will have 3 catches for at least 40 yards and one touchdown. Sneel will have 175+ rushing yards and Kentucky will have 250 yards on the ground total for the game and 450 yards of offense total. The Cats get a big W this weekend in Lexington.

My Prediction: Kentucky 31 Ole Miss 24

Now, this is just my opinion. What are some of the experts saying?

Pete Fiutak – College Football News:

Ole Miss has more offensive pop and explosion, but Kentucky has a way of keeping control of games.

That’s about to change this week.

Kentucky was about to beat South Carolina, but it’s had a whole slew of problems putting away bad teams.

Ole Miss’s losses have come to LSU, Auburn, and Alabama. There might be losses to Cal and Arkansas in there, but this is the week when the Rebel passing game takes over.

Let us know your predictions in the comments!