Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Odds, Picks: Chris Rodriguez to Serve as X-Factor

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Odds, Picks: Chris Rodriguez to Serve as X-Factor article feature image

Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Image. Pictured: Chris Rodriguez Jr. (Kentucky)

  • The Kentucky Wildcats hit the road to Oxford on Saturday to face the Ole Miss Rebels in SEC college football action.
  • Running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. is set to return for the Wildcats and should play a key role in this one.
  • BJ Cunningham breaks down Kentucky vs. Ole Miss and shares his top pick based on his analysis below.

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Odds

Saturday, Oct. 1
12 p.m. ET
Kentucky Odds
-110o / -110u
Ole Miss Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute college football odds here.

A top-15 matchup in the SEC kicks off Saturday's college football slate as Kentucky heads to Oxford to take on Ole Miss.

Kentucky passed its first big test, going on the road and beating Florida in Gainesville 26-16. Other than that game, the Wildcats have beaten a pair of MAC teams and Youngstown State.

Mark Stoops has a team that can, at the very least, compete with Georgia for SEC East, but it needs to win this game to have a shot at doing so.

Lane Kiffin has Ole Miss rolling along through a very easy part of its schedule. The Rebels did, however, get blanked in the second half last weekend against Tulsa. They haven't played a decent defense yet, so Saturday could be a rude awakening for Kiffin.

Kentucky Wildcats

Wildcats Offense

Will Levis decided to forgo the NFL draft and return for his senior season at Kentucky, but so far, he's been pretty average through four games. His yards per attempt are at 10.1, as he has 10 touchdowns compared to four interceptions.

That sounds good, however, his PFF passing grade is only at 69.5, and he only has two Big Time Throws compared to six Turnover Worthy Plays.

He lost his top target Wan'Dale Robinson from last season, and is breaking in a new crop of receivers. There have been some growing pains.

It also doesn't help that Kentucky only brought back two starters on its offensive line and is 51st in terms of Pass Blocking Grade, per PFF.

The Kentucky offense has struggled to run the ball, but star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. will make his season debut on Saturday.

This is incredible news for the Kentucky offense because last season he averaged 6.1 yards per attempt, close to 4.0 yards after contact per attempt and had 37 runs of 10 yards or more. 

The last time Chris Rodriguez carried the football for Kentucky:

— TheCatsPause247 (@TheCatsPause247) September 25, 2022

Wildcats Defense 

The Wildcats only returned five starters from last season on defense, but that hasn't stopped them from becoming one of the better Power Five defenses.

The game against Florida is good indicator of this matchup because Ole Miss is also incredibly run heavy. In that game, Kentucky held Florida to just 4.3 yards per play, a 22% Success Rate and only 4.1 yards per carry.

The Kentucky defense has been incredible in minimizing opposing offense's Success Rates. The Wildcats rank in the top 10 in the country in both Rushing and Passing Success Rate Allowed.

However, the Wildcats are 113th in Explosiveness Allowed, which is a major problem going up against a Kiffin offense.

However, even with all of those explosive plays given up, Kentucky is still putting the clamps down when teams cross their 40-yard line because it's 17th in Finishing Drives Allowed and only allowed six points to Florida on four opportunities.

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Ole Miss Rebels

Rebels Offense

Ole Miss has played a pretty easy schedule to this point, having faced Troy, Central Arkansas, Georgia Tech and Tulsa.

I want to focus on the Troy and Tulsa games because there is something pretty concerning hidden in those box scores: Jaxson Dart might be really bad.

In those two games, he threw for 154 yards each and under 6.0 yards per attempt. His PFF Passing Grade was under 58 in both games.

That has caused Ole Miss to rank 91st in Passing Success Rate.

This is not good news when Ole Miss is going up against a Kentucky secondary that is top-10 in the nation in EPA/Pass Allowed.

On the other hand, Ole Miss has run the ball effectively in all four games, as the Rebels are third in Rushing Success Rate, 19th in EPA/Rush and are averaging 5.7 yards per carry.

That's all with Kiffin calling runs on 68.3% of the Rebels' offensive plays. However, this is by far the best front seven they’ve seen this season because Kentucky is sixth in the nation in Rushing Success Rate Allowed.

Rebels Defense 

The Ole Miss defense had not been tested before the game against Tulsa on Saturday, and there were some concerning developments for the Rebels.

Tulsa averaged 5.95 yards per play, had a 56% Standard Down Success Rate and ran the ball for a whopping 6.1 yards per carry.

Kiffin has rebuilt this defense through the portal, but getting all of these new pieces to work together is another thing.

Additionally, this is by far the best quarterback Ole Miss has seen this season.

Ole Miss' rankings and defensive stats have been buoyed by playing one of the easiest schedules in the country to start the season. Saturday is about to be a rude awakening when having to face Levis and Rodriguez.

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Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how Kentucky and Ole Miss match up statistically:

Kentucky Offense vs. Ole Miss Defense
Rush Success12445
Line Yards10970
Pass Success923
Pass Blocking**5111
Finishing Drives616
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Ole Miss Offense vs. Kentucky Defense
Rush Success36
Line Yards3757
Pass Success9110
Pass Blocking**5686
Finishing Drives3317
** Pass Blocking (Off.) vs. Pass Rush (Def.)

Pace of Play / Other
PFF Tackling2119
PFF Coverage204
SP+ Special Teams2639
Seconds per Play31.8 (127)20.8 (5)
Rush Rate53.6% (67)65.1% (10)
Data via (CFBD), FootballOutsiders, SP+, Pro Football Focus and SportSource Analytics.

Kentucky vs. Ole Miss Betting Pick

This line is far too high for an overrated Ole Miss team that has not been truly tested yet.

The game against Tulsa last weekend is a good barometer of where Kiffin's defense stood, and the return was uninspiring.

Kentucky getting Rodriguez back in the backfield is a massive upgrade and will take a lot of pressure off Levis.

I only have Ole Miss projected as a 2.6-point favorite, so I like the Wildcats at +7, which is currently available at Caesars.

Pick: Kentucky +7

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