Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Odds, Picks, Predictions (10/1/22)

In a pivotal SEC matchup, #7 Kentucky (4-0) meets #11 Ole Miss (4-0). The Wildcats are coming off a 31-23 win over Northern Illinois where QB Will Levis threw for 303 yards and 4 touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Ole Miss struggled against Tulsa and only won 35-27 despite fielding a clearly superior team. RB Quinshon Jenkins was a bright spot though, as he totaled 145 yards and two touchdowns.

Which squad will remain undefeated and pick up a resume win? Odds, picks, predictions, and key matchups are found below.

*All stats per PFF

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Odds

Ole Miss is surprisingly favored by a decent amount; the spread currently stands at -7 Ole Miss. Kentucky’s moneyline is +220, which means they provide a profit on moneyline bets if they win at least 33% of the time. The 54 over under sits in the middle of the pack for games this week.

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Prediction & Pick

Kentucky and Ole Miss are a toss up in my eyes, so I am thrilled to get a +220 moneyline and +7 spread. Either option is valuable, but I am leaning towards Kentucky covering being the best bet here. The 7 points more than make up for the shorter odds considering Ole Miss can easily win this contest.

The fatal flaw for Kentucky this season has been the run game. They are averaging 81.5 rush yards per game on a mere 2.4 yards per rush. However, RB Chris Rodriguez Jr is making his season debut and will immediately provide a spark. He totaled 1,439 yards and 13 touchdowns last season while averaging a fantastic 3.94 yards after contact per attempt. Kentucky’s offensive line hasn’t created enough gaps this season, but Rodriguez will find a way forward.

He complements a dangerous passing attack led by QB Will Levis, who is 18th in passing yards and 16th in passing touchdowns. WR Tayvion Robinson remains a constant breakaway threat who has racked up 349 yards and two touchdowns. His average depth of target is only 4.9 yards, but of the 137 receivers with 15 receptions, Robinson leads the nation at 12.3 yards after the catch per reception.

As a monster downfield threat, freshman WR Dane Key pairs nicely with Robinson’s yards after the catch skills. Key has six contested catches on seven contested attempts and an average depth of target of 16.5 yards.

Ole Miss owns a quality defense though, so it will be tough sledding for Kentucky’s offense. DE Cedric Johnson is 8th in pass rush win percentage at 22.9%, while Tavius Robinson is 22nd at 19.1% (minimum 90 pass rush snaps). This duo can break Kentucky’s average offensive line and harass Levis. Their defense also features a deep and talented secondary, so Levis must be especially precise in his throws.

Ole Miss’ offense, meanwhile, is led by QB Jaxson Dart. 65.9% of his dropbacks are from play action, and he owns the second largest average depth of target at 13.7 yards (minimum 60 dropbacks). In Dart’s twenty 20+ yard attempts, he has eight big time throws compared to only one turnover worthy play.

WR Jonathan Mingo and Malik Heath are Dart’s premier deep threats; the duo has been extremely effective downfield. However, Kentucky’s secondary is suffocating. They shut down Florida and pose a serious problem for Ole Miss.

CB Carrington Valentine has four pass breakups, one interception, and quarterbacks own a 40.1 NFL passer rating when targeting him. On the other side, Keidron Smith has two pass breakups, one interception, and a 53.9 rating. They form one of the best cornerback duos in the country, and they have significant help behind them in safeties Tyrell Ajian and Jordan Lovett.

Overall, Kentucky claims the slight edge on offense, while Ole Miss claims a slightly larger edge on defense. It’s going to be a tight game regardless of who wins. If they played 100 times, Ole Miss would probably win around 55 games. Therefore, Kentucky’s +220 moneyline and +7 spread is enticing.

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Key Matchups

Which defensive unit will be the most impactful? Their key matchups are found below.

Kentucky Front Seven vs. Ole Miss Run Game

Jaxson Dart loves to leverage play action for downfield throws, and it is far less effective when Ole Miss cannot run the ball. Kentucky’s defense thrives at tackling; they have 72 run play stops compared to 18 run play missed tackles. Their defensive line must hold firm, negate the ability of Ole Miss’ offensive line to generate push, and allow linebackers to collapse inside.

If Kentucky can neutralize the run game, then Dart must challenge a fearsome secondary without the benefit of defenders in zone coverage worrying about play action.

Ole Miss Pass Rush vs. Kentucky Offensive Line

Kentucky’s offensive line has allowed 31 pressures, 18 hurries, and 9 sacks. Ole Miss can take advantage of the Wildcats offensive line and bother Levis, who has struggled under pressure this season. It will be exceedingly difficult for Ole Miss’ corners to hold up in prolonged coverage against these Kentucky receivers, so reducing Levis’ time to throw is essential.

Should the offensive line pass block and run block well, then Kentucky will have the upper hand. This matchup is arguably the most important in the entire game.

Braxton has been writing for Lineups since December 2021 with the majority of his articles focused on the NBA. He is currently a senior at the University of Pennsylvania where he has spent the last few years working with various UPenn athletics teams and contributing to the UPenn Sports Analytics Group.

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