Many changes for Kentucky and Ole Miss in the 6 years since they last met on gridiron
A lot has changed for Ole Miss and Kentucky since the two programs last met on the gridiron in 2011. In that season, the Wildcats got the best of the Rebels with a 30-13 victory inside Commonwealth Stadium.
That win marked Kentucky’s first Southeastern Conference win in a nearly a year. Ole Miss’ head coach at the time was Houston Nutt. The Wildcats were coached by Joe “Joker” Phillips, who led Kentucky to a 5-7 (2-6 SEC) finish. As for Nutt and the Rebels, they finished 2-10, losing seven consecutive games to end the year.
After the 2011 season, Ole Miss brought in Hugh Freeze to revive the Rebels fortune, and it didn’t take long for Freeze and his staff to get things going. Freeze took Ole Miss to four consecutive winning seasons, making back-to-back trips to New Year’s Six Day Bowls.
The Wildcats didn’t make a change at head coach until after the 2012 season, bringing in Mark Stoops to make changes to a program that hadn’t witnessed a complete winning season nor a bowl game at the time since 2010. In 2016, Stoops led the Wildcats to a 7-6 record, and a berth in the TaxSlayer Bowl. Ole Miss went 5-7 in 2016 under Freeze, who resigned before the 2017 season.
Former offensive line coach Matt Luke is the interim head coach for the Rebels (3-5, 1-4). The Wildcats are sitting at 6-2 (3-2) and are bowl eligible this year, Stoops’ second winning season at Kentucky.
Heading into Saturday’s showdown, both offenses are explosive. For the season, Ole Miss is averaging 338.13 passing yards per game, which leads the SEC. The Wildcats have mainly relied on sophomore running back Benny Snell, Jr. to lead the offense. He’s currently third in the SEC in rushing yards (721), has nine rushing scores, while averaging 4.51 yards per carry.
As for the both team’s defenses, the Rebels have struggled with their rushing defense, giving up 260.5 yards per game on the ground. Kentucky’s passing defense is giving up 266.6 yards per game, which ranks 112th in the FBS.
Kickoff is slated for 3:00 p.m. CT, and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Courtney is from Memphis and received his Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts from the University of Memphis in May of 2014. He began his journalism career covering the Memphis Tigers Men’s basketball team, which landed him an intern position on 730 Yahoo Sports Radio and a position with Rivals.com. A freelance writer for the Associated Press, Courtney is also a member of The Rebel Walk team and reports regularly on Ole Miss football and basketball. Courtney, the father of a six-year old girl named Soniyah, prefers to cover NCAA basketball and football, but is happy to report on any other sport that comes his way.