Kentucky football recap: Self-inflicted wounds cost Wildcats in loss at Ole Miss

Brooks Holton
Louisville Courier Journal

Kentucky football heads to Oxford, Mississippi, looking to score another top-25 victory against a Southeastern Conference opponent on the road.

The No. 7 Wildcats (4-0, 1-0 SEC) and No. 14 Ole Miss (4-0, 0-0) are scheduled to kick off at noon Saturday from a sold-out Vaught Hemingway Stadium.

With star running back Chris Rodriguez returning to the field, UK enters Week 5 with a chance to start 2-0 on the road in SEC play for the first time since 1984. To do that, Mark Stoops' team will have to improve upon its pass protection and defensive lapses from last week's win against Northern Illinois.

Kentucky has lost two straight to Ole Miss and hasn't beaten the Rebels on the road since Sept. 26, 1964, when the Wildcats won 27-21 in Jackson, Mississippi.

Sep 24, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) throws a pass during the first quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

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Ole Miss enters its first SEC matchup fresh off a 35-27 win against Tulsa. Lane Kiffin's team ranks fourth in the FBS averaging 280 rushing yards per contest, led by freshman Quinshon Judkins.

Here's how you can watch and/or listen to Kentucky vs. Ole Miss, and follow along with live updates from Oxford below. Once the game starts, check back in for video highlights of all the top plays.

FINAL: Ole Miss 22, Kentucky 19

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Mississippi Rebels line backer Troy Brown (8) reacts after a safety during the second quarter against the Kentucky Wildcats at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss improved to 5-0 (1-0 SEC) with the victory, its third straight over the Wildcats. Kentucky fell to 4-1 (1-1) with the loss.

UK returns to Kroger Field in Week 6 and will face South Carolina at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 8. Ole Miss hits the road to play Vanderbilt at 3 p.m. on Oct. 8 in Nashville, Tennessee.

Another Will Levis fumble ends Kentucky's final drive - 0:51, 4Q

Kentucky's defense gave its offense a final chance to draw level with less than two minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. Taking over on his team's 34-yard line, Will Levis connected on a screen pass to Barion Brown, who ran 51 yards to the Ole Miss 7-yard line. An illegal motion penalty pushed the Wildcats back 5 yards, and on the next play Levis had the ball knocked out of his hands by defensive lineman Jared Ivey and recovered by Tavius Robinson to ice the game.

Kentucky threatens, but Ole Miss forces fumble from Will Levis - 2:55, 4Q

Facing a third down and 2 from Ole Miss' 19-yard line, Will Levis opted to run and appeared to gain enough to move the chains. Ole Miss' Austin Keys forced the ball out of his hands, however, and teammate AJ Finley recovered to give the Rebels possession.

Ole Miss retakes lead; Kentucky can't convert on fourth down - 14:55, 4Q

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Kentucky Wildcats linebacker Jordan Wright (15) reacts after a pass breakup during the second quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Ole Miss got back in front against Kentucky on a 26-yard field goal from Jonathan Cruz with 2:19 remaining in the third quarter. The Wildcats' offense reached the Rebels' 32-yard line on the ensuing drive but couldn't convert on fourth down and 3 and turned the ball over on downs to begin the fourth quarter.

Kentucky draws level vs. Ole Miss when Will Levis connects with Jordan Dingle for 17-yard TD - 6:22, 3Q

The Wildcats clawed their way back into Saturday's top-25 showdown with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Will Levis to redshirt freshman tight end Jordan Dingle. The score capped off an eight-play, 49-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock in the third quarter.

HALF: Kentucky football trails Ole Miss 19-12 after late interception

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops (left) and Mississippi Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin (right) talk prior tot the game at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

UK linebacker Jacquez Jones picked off Ole Miss quarterback Jaxon Dart in the final seconds of the first half to prevent the Rebels from adding to their 19-12 lead. Dart is 8 of 17 for 141 yards and the INT.

UK football cuts deficit to one score with Tayvion Robinson's receiving touchdown - 1:23, 2Q

Tayvion Robinson took a shovel pass 5 yards to the end zone to cap a crucial drive and get Kentucky back within one score. But yet another extra-point debacle cost the Wildcats a point, leaving it 19-12 Ole Miss with 1:23 left in the first half. The snap was bobbled, and Kentucky's holder was tackled after trying to run into the end zone.

The drive lasted nine plays and covered 70 yards. QB Will Levis, one drive after appearing to dislocate his finger, threw three passes, all on the last three plays, for 28 yards.

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Kentucky QB Will Levis returns vs. Ole Miss after appearing to to dislocate finger - 6:57, 2Q

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Will Levis (7) warms up prior to the game against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

Will Levis appeared to dislocate the middle finger of his left hand on the play that resulted in Ole Miss' safety but returned to the game on Kentucky's next drive.

A replay was shown on the ESPN broadcast of Levis holding up his hand to an official with a finger clearly pointing in the wrong direction. The broadcast showed Levis on the sideline after the safety, and he reportedly had the finger popped back into place and taped to another finger on his non-throwing hand. He took snaps on the sideline and returned to the field after the Rebels kicked a field goal on their next drive to go up 19-6.

ESPN also reported Levis is dealing with a left ankle or foot injury.

Kentucky QB Will Levis flagged for intentional grounding in end zone, giving Ole Miss safety - 10:28, 2Q

With Kentucky's offense backed up on its own 11-yard line, quarterback Will Levis faced pressure from the Ole Miss defense and was flagged for intentional grounding in the end zone. After a review, the call on the field was confirmed, giving the Rebels a safety, a 16-6 lead and the ball back.

UK football gets on the board vs. Ole Miss with Chris Rodriguez's first TD run of the season - END 1Q

After an 85-yard kickoff return from Barion Brown, Kentucky got on the scoreboard with a 10-yard touchdown run from senior tailback Chris Rodriguez, his first score of the season. Ole Miss blocked the ensuing extra point and held a 14-6 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Barion Brown sets up Kentucky football's scoring drive with 85-yard kickoff return - 0:47, 1Q

With Kentucky needing a jolt down 14-0, Barion Brown delivered. The freshman wideout fielded a kickoff from Ole Miss' Jonathan Cruz at the goal line and ran 85 yards to the Rebels' 15. Senior running back Chris Rodriguez found the end zone for the first time of the season two plays later.

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Ole Miss football extends lead vs. Kentucky with 48-yard run from Quinshon Judkins - 0:59, 1Q

The Rebels jumped out to a 14-0 lead against Kentucky on a 48-yard run from freshman Quinshon Judkins. The big play capped off a drive that covered 79 yards in six plays.

Kentucky's Matt Ruffolo misses 39-yard field goal vs. Ole Miss - 2:44, 1Q

Kentucky reached Ole Miss' 21-yard line on its second offensive drive of the game but stalled there. On fourth and 9, kicker Matt Ruffolo missed a 39-yard field goal, allowing the Rebels to hang onto a 7-0 lead. Ruffolo entered Saturday's game 7 for 8 on field-goal attempts with a long of 50 yards.

Ole Miss strikes first vs. Kentucky football with TD run from Zach Evans - 7:09, 1Q

Ole Miss took a 7-0 lead against Kentucky on a 1-yard run from junior tailback Zach Evans. The touchdown capped off a six-play drive that covered 65 yards in less than two minutes.

Chris Rodriguez gets the start at running back for Kentucky football vs. Ole Miss

Oct 1, 2022; Oxford, Mississippi, USA; Kentucky Wildcats running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. (24) reacts with Kentucky Wildcats offensive linemen Tashawn Manning (79) after a touchdown run during the first quarter against the Mississippi Rebels at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

On its first offensive play of the game, Kentucky handed the ball off to senior running back Chris Rodriguez for the first time this season. Rodriguez, who for his career averages 6.5 yards per carry, gained 6 yards on the play. He did not play in the Wildcats' first four games and is believed to have been serving a suspension related to an NCAA inquiry into player eligibility that was reported by Sports Illustrated. UK has not confirmed the reason for his absence.

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ESPN's 'College GameDay' split on Kentucky football vs. Ole Miss picks

Heisman Trophy winner Desmond Howard and celebrity guest picker Christian Wilkins, a former Clemson standout, picked the Rebels. Kirk Herbstreit and Pat McAfee sided with the Wildcats.

How to watch Kentucky football vs. Ole Miss on TV, livestream

Sep 24, 2022; Lexington, Kentucky, USA; Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Tayvion Robinson (9) catches a pass and runs the ball into the end zone for a touchdown during the second quarter against the Northern Illinois Huskies at Kroger Field. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Game time: noon Saturday, Oct. 1

Location: Vaught Hemingway Stadium (Oxford, Mississippi)


Online livestream: ESPN.com/watch

Terrestrial radio broadcast: 840-AM in Louisville; 630-AM, 98.1-FM in Lexington

Online radio broadcast: UKAthletics.com

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UK football vs. Ole Miss spread, betting odds

Youngstown State quarterback Demeatric Crenshaw (10) throws the ball away while being tackled by Kentucky linebacker Jordan Wright, left, during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Lexington, Ky., Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022. (AP Photo/Michael Clubb)

As of Friday morning, Ole Miss was a seven-point favorite over Kentucky, according to the VegasInsider consensus line.

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Reach recruiting and trending sports reporter Brooks Holton at bholton@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter at @brooksHolton.