Plenty of things went right for Kentucky last Saturday at Auburn. They outgained the Tigers by 60 yards, and outrushed them 145-91. Terry Wilson had more passing yards than Bo Nix. But at the end of the day, Kentucky came up on the short end of a 29-13 score in a game that was more competitive than it seemed. Kentucky trimmed the Auburn lead to 15-13 late in the third quarter, but turned the ball over on the first possession of the fourth quarter, and never got back in the game.
The turning point in the game was a missed touchdown call on a Chris Rodriguez run just before the half. After the errant call was allowed to stand, Wilson threw a costly interception, which was run back for a touchdown, which ended up not counting due to an Auburn targeting penalty. Had the call been made correctly, Kentucky likely would have held a 14-8 edge at the half.
Instead, the Wildcats are 0-1, and trying to avoid a disappointment against the visiting Ole Miss Rebels and new coach Lane Kiffin. Adding to the intrigue, Auburn transfer QB Joey Gatewood is now eligible for Kentucky. Tomorrow’s game promising to be interesting.
About Ole Miss
The Rebels opened their season with a 51-35 loss at home to Florida. In a nutshell, that’s probably the outlook for Ole Miss. Their offense, led by highly regarded sophomore QB Matt Corral, is pretty solid. Corral passed for 395 yards against the Gators, mostly to wide receiver Elijah Moore, whose 227 receiving yards led the SEC last week.
But while the Rebels amassed 613 yards, they allowed 642, and Gator QB Kyle Trask passed the ball on them with ease. Ole Miss was particularly vulnerable on passes in the middle of the field, as Gator tight end Kyle Pitts had a huge game. Kentucky could make similar in-roads with Josh Ali or one of the other UK receiving threats. Vegas has the Rebels as a six-point underdog to Kentucky as kickoff approaches.
Yes, the Wildcats are 0-1. Worse is that QB Terry Wilson was somewhere between rusty and overwhelmed during the game. Kentucky lost the turnover battle last week 3-0, and given the potency of Ole Miss’s offense, don’t be surprised if the Wildcats look to pound the football on the ground and try to shorten the game.
It would not be surprising if Joey Gatewood saw some snaps. Frankly, given the absence of a spring game or a ton of open practice situations, it’s not entirely clear what Gatewood may bring to the table. But he was a highly regarded recruit who nearly won the starting job at Auburn last season.
Perhaps Kentucky’s biggest takeaway from Week One is that no matter how well the Wildcats run the ball, they can’t afford to go minus 3 on turnovers again. Part of that starts with the UK defense, which was solid last week, but probably needs to get used to the idea that this week, they can give up more yards and more points, but if they manage a couple of takeaways, will have a good day.
From here, looks like the defense makes a big play late to help hang on to this one.
UK 38, Ole Miss 28.
Other SEC Predictions
Florida 42, South Carolina 14
Tennessee 31, Missouri 21
Alabama 45, Texas A&M 10
Auburn 31, Georgia 30
Mississippi State 38, Arkansas 17
LSU 38, Vanderbilt 10
Joe Cox is contributing editor for KySportsStyle.com Magazine. He grew up in Letcher County and Bell County and has written or co-written nine books. His most recent, "A Fine Team Man: Jackie Robinson and the Lives He Changed," was released in February 2019 and can be ordered on Amazon or at many local bookstores. Joe is an attorney and lives in Logan County with his wife and children. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.