In my best Keith Jackson voice, “This iiiiiis the big one.”
The No. 14 Ole Miss Rebels (4-0, 0-0 SEC) host the No. 7 Kentucky Wildcats (4-0, 1-0) on Saturday (11am, ESPN) in what sets up to be a doozy of a game.
It’s the one we’ve been waiting for since the season ended last January.
This is the game that finally shows us whether Ole Miss is a contender or a pretender.
At times this season the Rebels have looked like contenders (see Georgia Tech and the 2nd quarter against Tulsa) and at times they’ve looked like pretenders (see entire 2nd half against Tulsa).
But on Saturday Ole Miss will get Kentucky’s best shot, and if the Rebs come out on top we’ll know this team really is legit.
A win over the Wildcats would thrust Ole Miss into the Top 10 and set it on a collision course with Alabama on November 12 in what could possibly be a battle for entry into the SEC Championship Game.
I know, I know, I’m getting waaay ahead of myself here, but if you look at the Ole Miss schedule, the Rebs are likely favorites in every game between now and Alabama if, and it’s a big if, they beat Kentucky.
So, yeah, Kentucky really is the big one.
This game could be won or lost any number of ways, but I can’t help but think it’s all going to come down to Jaxson Dart playing a mistake-free football game and stepping up with the big passes at the right time.
Quinshon Judkins and Zach Evans should be able to do the heavy lifting, but eventually Dart will have to make some passes, and probably more of them than any other game he’s played thus far.
If he can do that without giving away the football the Rebs win.
That’s a lot of pressure to put on a sophomore quarterback, but playing in the SEC spotlight as Lane Kiffin’s latest protégée is what brought Dart to Oxford in the first place.
This is the moment he’s been waiting for.
It’s the moment we’ve all be waiting for.
SEC football in sold out Vaught-Hemingway between a pair of undefeated teams with a seat at the Top 10 table on the line.
It doesn’t get much bigger than that.
Let’s do this!