SEC rivals enjoying undefeated starts clash Saturday as the Ole Miss Rebels (4-0 SU, 2-2 ATS) play host to the Kentucky Wildcats (4-0, 3-1) in Week 5 action. Both teams remained perfect straight up with Week 4 victories but failed to dominate as expected. The Wildcats fell well short of covering as massive 27-point favorites in their 31-23 win over Northern Illinois. The Rebels were held scoreless after halftime in their 35-27 victory over Tulsa while favored by 21 points.

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Kentucky vs Ole Miss Betting Preview

Kentucky vs Ole Miss Opening Odds

Despite their recent struggles to generate consistent offense, the Rebels have gained ground since opening as 4-point favorites, climbing to 6.5-point chalk. The total has faded slightly, dipping to 55 after opening at 55.5.

The Wildcats are coming off their first ATS defeat of the season. The Rebels have struggled to reward loyal sports bettors, covering just twice through their first four outings, including a pair of ATS losses on home turf while favored by 21 or more points. However, Ole Miss has covered in each of its three wins during a 3-1 SU run against the Wildcats and has topped Kentucky in six of eight meetings since 2000. 

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Wildcats Struggling With Porous Offensive Line

The Kentucky offensive line once again fell far short of providing Will Levis adequate pass protection, allowing the Wildcats quarterback to be sacked five times in Saturday’s victory over Northern Illinois. Levis has now been sacked 16 times this season, second most in the nation. However, he still managed to connect for 303 passing yards and four touchdowns in Saturday’s victory.

Freshman Barion Brown and senior Tayvion Robinson accounted for the lion’s share of Kentucky’s receiving yards. The duo combined for 249 yards and each made a pair of scoring catches as the Wildcats extended their current SU win streak to eight games.

And while concern over the O-line’s ability to provide Levis with adequate protection in the pocket persists, the team’s steady return to health bodes well. For the first time this season, Kentucky did not incur any major injuries in Saturday’s win over Northern Illinois.

The game also featured the return of starting guard Tashawn Manning, who was sidelined by injury in Week 3. The SEC’s leading rusher last season, Chris Rodriguez, is also set to return after missing the first four games due to a suspension. 

Rebels Defense Masking Offensive Inconsistencies

The Ole Miss Rebels effectively shut down opposing offenses through their first three outings, surrendering just 13 total points. However, their inability to control the ball after recess almost proved costly in last weekend’s win over Tulsa.

For the fourth time in as many outings, the Rebels racked up at least 21 first-half points. Powered by a sensational 28-point second-quarter performance, the team took a decisive 35-14 lead into halftime. However, the offense mustered just 145 yards after recess, with their lone drive into the Tulsa red zone ending with an interception.

Quarterback Jaxson Dart completed just 13 of 24 pass attempts for 154 yards. However, the sophomore still managed to find the end zone twice and set a career high with 116 rushing yards. 

While they sputtered offensively, the Rebels stood tall on defense, slamming the door on the Golden Hurricane after they pulled within eight points. Ole Miss held the Tulsa offense to just 31 total yards and well inside their own 40-yard line over their final three possessions of the game. 

Kentucky: Keys To Win

The offensive line faces a huge challenge to contain a Rebels defense that ranks sixth in the nation in points allowed per game and also sits among the leaders with 13 sacks. A stout performance will be key to reversing a worrisome trend that has seen Kentucky score just 14 first-quarter points through its first four outings. 

Ole Miss: Keys To Win

Fast starts have been crucial to the Rebels’ early-season success, with the team averaging 27 points before halftime. Considering the tendency of the offense to ease up as games progress, the Rebels cannot afford to spot the Wildcats an early lead. And considering Kentucky’s effectiveness defending against the pass, allowing just two scores against three picks, the Rebels may find themselves once again leaning on their ground game.

College Football Computer Pick: Wildcats +6.5

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Shark Bites
  • Ole Miss is 6-2 SU in the last 8 meetings.
  • Kentucky is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 vs SEC rivals.
  • The UNDER is 6-0 in Ole Miss’ last 6 vs SEC foes.
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