Mississippi (2-6, 0-5 SEC)at Kentucky (3-5, 0-4 SEC)
When: 3:30 p.m.
Radio: WLAP-AM 630; WBUL-FM 98.1; XM Channel 199; Sirius Premier Package Channel 220
Series: Mississippi leads 27-13-1
Last meeting: Mississippi won 42-35 on Oct. 2, 2010, at Oxford, Miss.
Line: Mississippi by 11/2
Protect Max Smith
True freshman quarterback Max Smith gave Kentucky a lift — and some offensive rhythm — by completing 26 of 33 passes against Mississippi State. In prior outings, Smith has struggled at times calling protections and been vulnerable to blitzes. For his first career start to go well, Smith needs to spend Saturday upright.
Run the football
The best way to take pressure off a young QB is with a ground attack. Kentucky needs its veteran offensive line to open holes for either CoShik Williams, Jonathan George or both to have a big game toting the football. Ole Miss is last in the SEC against the run (surrendering 226.8 yards a game).
Watch out for Nutt's trickery
Houston Nutt's nickname (on ESPN) may be The Right Reverend, but he has a gambler's heart. Ole Miss has scored touchdowns this year on a reverse pass and a reverse punt return. The Rebels have tried three onside kicks (tied with Tennessee for most in the SEC) and recovered two. With Mississippi — which has not won a league game since beating UK a season ago — desperate for a victory, Kentucky had better be prepared for anything.
With basketball starting, disinterest is winning out over anger toward the Cats football program among the UK fan base. The play of Max Smith last week and the fact he is making his first career start at quarterback this week at least introduces an element of curiosity. There is one thing worse than playing in a game that most would say matches the two worst teams in the SEC — losing it. Kentucky needs to win this game.