It's July, one of the least action packed sporting seasons of the year unless you are really into Major League Baseball. The NBA summer league will be interesting to watch this year as multiple former Kentucky Wildcats are trying to land on a roster somewhere, but now is the time of year where we really start pining for some football.
Vegas has just provided us with a talking point as they set the over/under for total wins this season at six.
This is a crucial year for Mark Stoops and staff. Most of Joker's players are gone, Commonwealth Stadium is being renovated as you read this, and there is major momentum picking back up in the world of recruiting. But some of that momentum could falter if Stoops fails to reach a bowl game in year three. This is the season we have been looking for ever since Stoops was hired to replace Phillips. How can the ‘Cats get it done?
September 5th: vs. Louisiana Lafayette Ragin' Cajuns
This isn't your typical opening day patsy. The Ragin Cajuns are coming off a 9-4 season with a bowl victory. They have been successful in the Sun Belt and postseason play isn't foreign territory, this has the makings of a test for Kentucky. But it will be opening night at the new Commonwealth Stadium and the ‘Cats will have superior talent.
September 12th: at South Carolina Gamecocks
Last season the Wildcats were able to make a home win against the Gamecocks the signature game of the season. We all felt at that time that the team had turned a corner, but it turned out that South Carolina was in the midst of a down year. Not to take away from the win against a quality SEC opponent, but it is what it is. Getting a win in Columbia is going to prove much more difficult and Steve Spurrier still knows how to exact revenge even in his later years.
September 19th: vs. Florida Gators
This has to be the year. It just has to be. After coming so closer to pay dirt last season in Gainesville, the Wildcats again lost a close one to the Gators. This season, Jim McElwain takes over a team in transition. There are questions at every position on the field and McElwain isn't the usual Florida type hire. If the ‘Cats are going to get the Gators, it has to be this year.
September 26th: vs. Missouri Tigers
I felt that the game at Missouri was a missed opportunity. The Tigers were the eventual SEC East champs, but nothing about them really scared me. In fact, the game wasn't particularly played well by either team, Kentucky just played worse than Missouri. That was the game that the offense really hit a funk that it never really shook itself out of as the year progressed. Maty Mauk killed the ‘Cats last season and he looks to be one of the better returning quarterbacks in the SEC. Gary Pinkle always has his team ready to play and I think the emotion of beating Florida will provide a bit of a let down.
October 3rd: vs. Eastern Kentucky Colonels
OK. It was one helluva off season for these two schools and their relation to one another. We all know about the fight at the bar and the later sucker punch of Drew Barker at an EKU dorm. Clearly the teams don't like each other. Luckily, the Wildcats have the superior team and will have motivation to completely destroy the Colonels. It will be a bloodbath.
October 15th: vs. Auburn Tigers
It's a Thursday night primetime game on ESPN and there is already talk of special uniforms. Commonwealth Stadium will be as jacked up as it has been since the LSU game that Andre Woodson's team won. The Tigers are a favorite to go to the College Football Playoff and are expected to be one of the best teams in the country. I think Kentucky will use the emotion to keep in close until the fourth quarter, but Auburn is too talented, too deep, and they have a mad scientist calling their plays.
October 24th: at Mississippi State Bulldogs
The Wildcats gave the Bulldogs all they wanted in Commonwealth last season. It was the last game that I thought they played really well. I also think they just about emptied the tank in that one as well. Heading to Starkville to play another very talented team is going to be a tall order that I still don't think the Wildcats are ready to fill.
October 31st: vs. Tennessee Volunteers
Happy Halloween! The Vols bring their pumpkin puke orange jerseys to Lexington to celebrate the holiday. And I think they will also bring with them the best team they've had since Phillip Fulmer. The Vols are primed for a big year under Butch Jones with a lot of talent all over the field. As much as I hate to say it, the Derrick Dooley days are dead and gone, and Tennessee is on the verge of a rebirth.
November 7th: at Georgia Bulldogs
This is the one game on the schedule that I really feel Kentucky has no shot at. It's in Athens and I don't care what you think of Mark Richt, Georgia is a very good football team. Remember that running game? Yeah, it's back again.
November 14th: at Vanderbilt Commodores
The "Dores were an embarrassment last season and there is nothing that tells me that they won't be again this season. Derek Mason was awful last season as a first time head coach. They didn't make any headway on the recruiting trail and Nashville is a terrible place to watch a football game if you are on Vandy's campus. Kentucky will be the superior team.
November 21st: vs. Charlotte 49ers
Last season, the Wildcats had an open date before the season finale. This season, they play a cupcake. This comes at a perfect time as they will be able to put together a little winning streak before welcoming Louisville into Commonwealth.
November 28th: vs. Louisville Cardinals
Here we go again. The ‘Cats will be 5-6 looking for a win against the Cards to secure a bowl game. Last season, a heartbreaking 44-40 loss at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium sent the ‘Cats packing. Kentucky had the game won if not for a dropped interception late in the fourth quarter. Louisville lost a ton of players to the draft and there won't be a Devante Parker to bail out their mediocre quarterbacks. I also think Louisville will hit a sophomore slump in the ACC and won't be in the best frame of mind when they come to Commonwealth Stadium.
And if the ‘Cats make it to a bowl game, I think they win that too. Why? Because it's about damn time, that's why.
Vote and tell us what you think, dear A Sea of Blue reader.