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Rebels Face Another Tough Challenge Against Kentucky's Ground Attack

Ole Miss QB Jordan Ta’amu gets his second career start in Lexington on Saturday. Photo by Randall Haley

Ole Miss hits the road this weekend as they travel up to Lexington, Kentucky, and tangle with the Wildcats. Kickoff is slated for 3 p.m. Saturday on SECNetwork.

Ole Miss (3-5, 1-4 SEC) is coming off of a heartbreaking 38-37 loss to Arkansas, thanks to a last-second Razorback field goal. The Rebels never played from behind until the go-ahead kick.
“After watching the tape, I was really pleased that they continue to fight and keep battling,” Ole Miss head coach Matt Luke said. “We’ll have to do that again this week—get back up off the mat and keep fighting.”
Quarterback Jordan Ta’amu made his first career start against the Razorbacks. He threw for 368 yards in the game with two rushing touchdowns. Ta’amu set a career high for the most passing yards by a Rebel QB making his first career start.
“He had a couple of mistakes, but [he was] very impressive for his first start in the SEC,” Luke said.
Kentucky, meanwhile, is off to its best start since 2007, with a mark of 3-2 in SEC play and an overall record of 6-2. The Wildcats are coming off a 29-26 home win over Tennessee, which earned them bowl eligibility for the second consecutive season. Offensively, Kentucky averages 341.0 yards per game, with 154.3 coming on the ground and 186.7 through the air.
Luke said he has been “very impressed with Coach Stoops and Kentucky. Benny Snell is one of the better running backs that we’ll face all season. They do a great job in the running game. It’s complemented by Stephen Johnson, their quarterback – he can run it and throw it. Defensively, they do a lot of moving around. They’re hard to get a bead on. So we’ll have our work cut out for us. Another big-time SEC road game.”

Benny Snell, Jr. leads a high-powered rushing attack for the Kentucky Wildcats. Photo courtesy of the University of Kentucky.

Sophomore Benny Snell, Jr. leads Kentucky’s ground attack, averaging just over 90 yards rushing per game. His nine rushing TDs ranks fourth in the SEC and 21st nationally. Snell is coming off a season-high 191 rushing yards and three-touchdown performance against the Volunteers. It was Snell’s fourth 100-yard game of the season and the ninth of his career.
Senior quarterback Stephen Johnson also showed he’s a threat to pull the ball and run after a career-high 84-yard rushing game versus Tennessee. Tight end C.J. Conrad, a third-team preseason All-SEC selection, is a red zone threat, hauling in three TD receptions off just nine catches all season.
Defensively, junior Josh Allen leads a Kentucky front seven that ranks sixth in the SEC in total sacks. Allen is second in the SEC and 12th nationally with seven sacks on the year. Allen sits third in career sacks amongst active SEC players. Junior safety Mike Edwards leads Kentucky with 64 tackles and has accounted for half of the Wildcats’ six interceptions.
The Wildcats have a strong kicking game, too, with Lou Groza Award candidate Austin MacGinnis. On the year, MacGinnis is 13-of-18 on field goal attempts with a long of 53 yards. 
Saturday’s game will the 43rd time these two teams have met on the gridiron. The Wildcats lead the series in games played in Lexington at 11-9-1, but Ole Miss holds the overall lead in the series at 27-14-1.

Adam Brown is the sports editor of HottyToddy.com. He can be reached at adam.brown@hottytoddy.com.
For more questions or comments email us at hottytoddynews@gmail.com

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