Kickoff time and TV designation are set for Kentucky’s SEC showdown at Ole Miss on Oct. 1.
The No. 8/9 Wildcats (3-0) and No. 13/16 Rebels (3-0) will kick off from Vaught Hemingway Stadium in Oxford at 12:00 p.m. ET and will be broadcast live on ESPN.
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Ole Miss started the season with wins over Troy (28-10), Central Arkansas (59-3) and Georgia Tech (42-0). The Rebels take on Tulsa in Oxford this weekend while Kentucky hosts Northern Illinois. If both teams are able to take care of business on Saturday, the game could potentially feature a pair of top-10 teams.
Mississippi leads the all-time series with Kentucky 28-14, including a 42-41 overtime win at Lexington in the last meeting of 2020. The game will also mark the UK’s first trip to Oxford since 2010. , a 42-35 loss to the Rebels. .
The game will also mark the UK’s return from running back Chris Rodriguezwho was suspended for the first four games of the season after filing an inaccurate scorecard while working at UK HealthCare hospital.
Rodriguez needs 1,134 yards to pass Benny Snell and become the school’s all-time best rusher. If Rodriguez played the last eight games of the regular season plus a bowl game, he would need to average 126 rushing yards per game to break the record, 113.4 per game if Kentucky reached the championship game of the SEC.
“We’ve been ready to deal with this for weeks now. We’ve been preparing the other guys, continuing to improve, and also keeping him fit, getting him reps when we can,” Stoops said. “Chris competes on scout teams, he gets his reps there. He does everything he can to stay in shape, slow his movement with the running game and keep getting reps with the first and the second offensive team when he can in certain situations. He remains active and prepares to leave and we will continue to build with the running backs that we have.
In Rodriguez’s absence, the Wildcats struggled to run the ball, averaging just 2.2 yards per carry in three games. Strategist Will Levis more than made up for the lack of ground production through the air, passing for 882 yards and six touchdowns.
Defensively, Kentucky ranks ninth nationally in pass efficiency defense (84.9), 12th in goal defense (9.7), 14th in total defense (253.7), and 37th in defense against running (101.7).
The Wildcats will be tested by Ole Miss, who is led by the USC quarterback and transfer Jaxson Dart, who completed 65.5% of his passes for 543 yards and three scores. TCU transfer Zach Evans leads the Rebels in rushing with 317 yards, averaging 6.5 yards per carry to go along with three touchdowns, followed by Quinshon Judkins, who rushed for 289 yards (6.7 yards per carry) and three scores. Wide Receivers Jonathan Mingo and transfer from Mississippi State Malik Heath combined for 18 catches for 348 yards and two touchdowns. USC tight end transfer Michael Trigg also caught three touchdowns.
Kentucky, which has won seven straight games since last season, is ranked in the top 10 in both polls for the second week in a row. His No. 8 ranking in the AP Poll is the highest on the program since 1977.