FACTS & STATS: Site: Tiger Stadium (102,321) — Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Television: SEC Network. Home Record: UK 5-0, LSU 3-1. Away Record: UK 0-1,
LSU 1-1. Neutral Record: UK 0-0, LSU 1-0. Conference Record: UK 2-1, LSU 1-2.
Series Record: LSU leads, 39-16-1.
GAME NOTES: The upstart Kentucky Wildcats will face their most difficult task
of the season on Saturday night when they head to Tiger Stadium to take on the
LSU Tigers in an SEC tilt.
Kentucky has been one of the nation’s most pleasant surprises, and at 5-1, it
has already won more games this season than in 2012 and 2013 combined. The
Wildcats are winners of three straight, most recently making easy work of ULM
last Saturday (48-14), but they lost their only previous road game at Florida
on Sept. 13, 36-30 in triple overtime.
LSU was once the No. 8 team in the country after winning its first three games
of the season, but following a pair of losses to two of the best teams in the
country – Mississippi State (34-29) and Auburn (41-7) – it fell from the
ranks. The Tigers endured a back-and-forth battle at Florida last week, and
after forcing a turnover in the final minute, they drilled the game-winning
field goal to secure a 30-27 victory.
The Tigers have a comfortable 39-16-1 advantage in the all-time series with
the Wildcats, which includes a 23-5-1 mark in Baton Rouge.
The Wildcats’ offense has been one of the most improved units in the nation,
as they score 36.5 ppg while displaying impressive balance between the run
(184.2 ypg) and the pass (264.3 ypg).
Patrick Towles has brought a consistent presence under center for the first
time in several years. He’s completing 62.5 percent of his passes for 1,541
yards and has accounted for 12 touchdowns while tossing just four
Jojo Kemp (297 yards, four TDs), Braylon Heard (282 yards, three TDs), Stanley
Williams (203 yards, two TDs) and Mikel Horton (172 yards, two TDs) have all
been effective in the backfield by committee. Williams and Heard have been
especially explosive, averaging 8.8 and 7.4 yards per carry, respectively.
Ryan Timmons leads the team in both catches (27) and receiving yards (315).
Timmons, Garrett Johnson (210 yards), Javess Blue (225 yards) and Blake Bone
(133 yards) all have two touchdowns.
Just as responsible for Kentucky’s fast start has been the outstanding play of
its defense, which allows 343.5 ypg while ranking 15th in the nation in points
allowed (18.7 ppg).
The unit has forced 16 turnovers, with A.J. Stamps, Marcus McWilson and Ashley
Lowery active in the takeaway battle with a combined eight interceptions. Josh
Forrest (46 tackles, 5.0 TFL, sack, INT) and Alvin Dupree (28 tackles, 4.5
TFL, 3.0 sacks, INT, blocked kick) are also stellar defensive playmakers.
LSU has impressed on the offensive side of the ball this season as well,
putting together 34.9 ppg and 414.1 ypg.
The Tigers have employed a two-quarterback system this year, but with Brandon
Harris (596 total yards, nine TDs, INT) out last week with a foot injury,
Anthony Jennings (1,003 yards, six TDs, three INTs) took ever snap under
centhe latest meeting on Nov. 13, 2010 in Knoxville, 52-14.
Despite scoring a season-high 45 points a week ago, Tennessee ranks as one of
the SEC’s worst in terms of scoring (28.0 ppg) and yardage (347.5 ypg).
Justin Worley has been stellar under center, completing 63.3 percent of his
passes for 1,388 yards, 15 touchdowns (three rushing) and just five
interceptions. He’s fresh off a five-touchdown performance in the Chattanooga
Jalen Hurd has emerged as the featured tailback as a freshman as has turned 84
carries into 374 yards and two touchdowns, although the Vols’ rushing attack
as a whole has disappointed (109.7 ypg).
Marquez North leads the team in every receiving category with 25 catches, 240
yards and four touchdowns. Eight players have double-digit receptions.
Defensively, Tennessee has stepped up its play in allowing only 19.2 ppg and
316.3 ypg while holding teams to a lowly 26 percent on third down.
A.J. Johnson is one of the nation’s best linebackers and has proven so with 68
tackles, 5.5 TFL, an interception, two forced fumbles and a blocked kick.
Jalen Reeves-Maybin has 49 tackles, 7.0 TFL and 2.0 sacks, while Cameron
Sutton’s presence has been felt both behind the line of scrimmage (4.0 TFL)
and in the secondary (three INTs).
Ole Miss’ offensive attack, which amasses 441.7 ypg and 35.7 ppg, is
spearheaded by its dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate under center.
Bo Wallace has done everything asked of him and more this season, throwing for
283.3 ypg with an outstanding completion percentage (.685) while accumulating
17 touchdowns (two rushing) and six interceptions, although he has just three
picks since throwing three in the season opener.
Wallace does a great job distributing the ball to a number of different
receivers, as Laquon Treadwell (30 receptions, 415 yards, four TDs), Vince
Sanders (22 receptions, 316 yards, three TDs), Cody Core (21 receptions, 333
yards, four TDs) and Evan Engram (18 receptions, 264 yards) have all played a
big part in the passing game.
The rushing attack (146.5 ypg) plays second fiddle to the aerial assault, but
Jaylen Walton (287 yards, three TDs) is still in the midst of a strong season,
averaging nearly six yards per carry.
As great a job as the offense has done, the biggest reason Ole Miss has
ascended this high in the polls is due to its excellent defense, as it boasts
the nation’s second-best scoring defense (11.8 ppg) while also ranking in the
top-15 in total defense (307.2 ypg) and turnovers gained (16). The unit held
Texas A&M to a season-low 20 points a week ago and returned two takeaways for
“Certainly, we’ve improved,” Freeze said of the defense. “We were playing
pretty good offense the other night (at Texas A&M). You’re only judged by your
last game, as we all know.”
Cody Prewitt (32 tackles, 3.5 TFL, two INTs) is one of the country’s best
safeties and scored a 75-yard touchdown last week on an interception return.
Senquez Golson has been a ball-hawk with five interceptions. Tony Conner (36
tackles, 4.5 TFL, INT), Mike Hilton (34 tackles, 2.5 TFL, INT)and Marquis
Haynes (4.0 sacks, two FF) have also played well on a defense with no shortage
Tennessee appears to be making steps in the right direction and has played its
two league contests tightly, but it is still not equipped enough to go on the
road and defeat one of the nation’s best. Ole Miss will enjoy a mini break in
its treacherous schedule by making easy work of the Vols.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Ole Miss 31, Tennessee 10