First Scouting Report: At Ole Miss, UK will face a different type of Lane Kiffin team

An early look ahead to the Kentucky Wildcats’ next football game:

The opponent

No. 8 Kentucky (4-0, 1-0 SEC) will play No. 16 Mississippi (4-0, 0-0 SEC) on Saturday (Oct. 1) at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium (seating capacity 64,038) in Oxford, Miss.

The game will kick off at noon (EDT) and will be telecast by ESPN.

Coach Lane Kiffin’s Rebels beat Tulsa 35-27 Saturday in Oxford.

Series history

Mississippi leads 29-14-1, and has won the past two games vs. Kentucky by a combined total of four points — 42-41 in in overtime in 2020 and 37-34 in 2017.

Most recent meeting

Matt Corral threw for 320 yards and four touchdowns to rally Mississippi from a 28-14 second-half deficit to a 42-41 overtime victory over Kentucky on Oct. 3, 2020, at Kroger Field.

UK scored first in the OT to take a 41-35 lead on a 10-yard TD run by Terry Wilson but Matt Ruffolo’s PAT failed. Ole Miss then answered with a 3-yard touchdown pass from Corral to Elijah Moore. Luke Logan converted the PAT to give Mississippi the win.

It was the first victory as Rebels head man for Lane Kiffin.

Know your foe

1. In his third year as Mississippi head man, Lane Kiffin is 19-8 as coach of the Rebels. No longer the coaching wunderkind at age 47, Kiffin has gone a combined 14-3 in 2021 and in 2022 so far.

Overall as a college head man at Tennessee, Southern California, Florida Atlantic and Mississippi, Kiffin is 81-42 in 11 years.

Kiffin is 2-0 vs. Kentucky with both victories coming in overtime.

In addition to the 2020 Ole Miss victory at UK, Kiffin was the Tennessee head man in 2009 when the Volunteers escaped Lexington with a 30-24 overtime victory over Kentucky.

2. Though people tend to associate a wide-open passing attack with Kiffin-led teams, going into Saturday’s game vs. Tulsa, Mississippi has been pulverizing opponents with a powerful rushing attack. The Rebels stood No. 5 in the FBS in rushing yards a game with an average of 271.7 yards a contest.

TCU transfer Zack Evans entered play this weekend 19th in the country in rushing with 317 yards. Freshman Quinshon Judkins was 32nd in the FBS in rushing with 289 yards.

Going into Saturday’s game with Tulsa, Mississippi running back Zach Evans (6) was 19th in the FBS in rushing with 317 rushing yards.
Going into Saturday’s game with Tulsa, Mississippi running back Zach Evans (6) was 19th in the FBS in rushing with 317 rushing yards.

In its three games before this week, Ole Miss had run for 266 yards (Troy), 233 (Central Arkansas) and 316 (Georgia Tech).

The Rebels will be a stout test for a Kentucky run defense that entered this weekend ranked No. 37 in the FBS against the rush, allowing an average of 152 yards a game.

3. Mississippi has used its punishing ground attack to take pressure off of quarterback Jaxson Dart. The 6-foot-2, 230-pound sophomore, a transfer from Southern California, entered Saturday’s play having completed 38 of 58 passes for 556 yards and three TDs vs. two picks.

Strange as it sounds to say about a Lane Kiffin-led team, defenses are going to try to slow the powerful Ole Miss running game and force the Rebels to try to beat them through the air.