Hopes of the faithful are hinging on 12 Saturdays in 2016. These die-hard Kentucky Football fans know there is an uphill battle in front of Mark Stoops' squad coming into the season.
Does that detract from their unwaning devotion to the gridiron cats? If anything, it fuels a fire with the resolute few and makes them thirst for the same kind of attention that a program like Tennessee is deservedly capturing.
I previously previewed the first-half of the season and had the team going 4-2 in those six games. Now, I am going to look forward to the last six games and see if there are 2 or more wins out there for Kentucky to win.
Going back to a bowl game for the first time in the Stoops era would be huge for the program and could bring on a magical 2017 season.
Dak Prescott had a Heisman-caliber performance last year against the Big Blue. He totaled 348 yards passing with three TDs and 117 yards rushing with three more touchdowns on the ground! He was drafted in the 4th round by the Cowboys and is looking pretty good so far in the preseason.
So UK doesn’t have to worry about him making our defense look feeble this year. I like Kentucky being at home and not having to hear those annoying cowbells! I like that Boom had 95 yards against them last year.
I also like that the Bulldogs have its third Defensive Coordinator in three years. I'm going out on a limb here saying that UK will be able to pull this one out, but it reminds me of the Auburn game from last year and we all know what happened there.
Playing on the road in the SEC is always a tough task. That being said this Missouri team is in "rebuilding" mode after Gary Pinkel had to resign and Maty Mauk was dismissed from the team.
Mauk's dismissal leaves Missouri with only two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster, Drew Lock, and Marvin Zanders. The heart and soul of the Tigers defense Kentrell Brothers has moved on to the NFL but that unit will return eight starters from last year.
This is one of those games that Kentucky has to win if it wants to turn the corner. Whether or not it happens this year, I'm not sure. I am going to call this one for the Cats as well, and that would be enough wins in my prediction to get Stoops to his first bowl game as a head coach!
It would be the earliest bowl game-clinching win since 2007 when UK beat LSU at Commonwealth Stadium. Does anyone remember that game?
Chubb and Michel are going to be a force to be reckoned with this year. New coach Kirby Smart has the running game he needs to have a successful season, the only question marks they have is at quarterback. Freshman Jacob Eason is slated to be the starting signal caller in Athens this fall.
The five-star recruit from Lake Stevens, Washington has turned into a SEC level quarterback this offseason, and it looks like he will be taking the reins this fall. Smart doesn't look like he will call him the starter until his September 3rd game against North Carolina though.
With all that being said I don't see an upset happening here but would love to be wrong. I call Bulldogs in this one.
The Volunteers look to be in position to take the leap to the SEC Championship game after their season took a little time to get firing on all cylinders last year. Joshua Dobbs is a watch-list horder landing on seven this preseason.
Those lists include the Manning Award, the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award, the CFPA National Performer of the Year award, the Walter Camp Player of the Year award, the Maxwell Award, the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award and the Wuerffel Trophy.
They torched us last year 52-21, and UK was at home. I got Cats coming up short in Knoxville this year.
Senior Day at Commonwealth will be special, it always is, mainly because it will be the last time the majority of our seniors will play football in front of their friends and families. Austin Peay was terrible last year and even if they're much improved, I still see Kentucky running away with this one early and resting some aching bodies for our next match-up.
I'd love to say that UK is going to go in and bust the Cardinals in the mouth. I'd love to say UK is going to figure out how to stop a running quarterback. I'd love to say that without the need for a win to become bowl-eligible, Stoops would have his team loose and ready to #FINISH.
So that's exactly what I am going to say!
The Cats have been so close to showing the Cards what they were capable of in the last few years. This year is different, UK has Stephen Johnson every day in practice showing our defense what it needs to do to contain Lamar Jackson. UK also will have seven wins by this time, according to my predictions, and will be able to be solely focused on the big red target in front of them and not getting bowl eligible.
So for those counting at home, I am going with eight wins!
Like it, love it, or hate it but it's out there. Go ahead and bookmark this page and feel free to come back to it at the end of November. I'll be waiting with a big grin on my face and my money saved up for the bowl game tickets!