clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kentucky Wildcats Football: Winning SEC East not as crazy as people think

Why I think the Wildcats are the dark horse for the SEC East crown.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Missouri Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone else feel that? It feels like excitement for football season. Hopefully all of Big Blue Nation has taken a sip or two of the blue Kool-Aid and is fully on board the hype train that is Kentucky football for the 2017-18 season.

The season last year did not start off like may fans would have hoped. Dropping the first two games to Southern Miss and getting blown out in The Swamp by Florida. But Wildcats fans could not have asked for a more perfect second half to the season.

With Kentucky sitting at 2-3, the Cats beat Vanderbilt, Mississippi State on a last second field-goal, and throttled Missouri on the road to put together a three game win streak and all but securing a bowl game.

The icing on top of the cake that was the 2016 season was going on the road to Louisville and beating the number eleven ranked Cardinals and their Heisman winning quarterback in Lamar Jackson, yet again thanks to the leg of Austin MacGinnis.

NCAA Football: Kentucky at Louisville Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

So what does Kentucky need to do to win their first ever SEC East title and make their first trip to Atlanta?

Benny Snell will have to have a terrific Sophomore season to go along side his breakout Freshman year. Snell rushed for over 1,000 yards in his Freshman season but also had the lightning quick Boom Williams playing next to him to switch up the load. This season, the overwhelming majority of carries should go to Benny Snell, but will he be able to replicate what he did just under a year ago?

The defense stepped up once Mark Stoops took over for DJ Elliot and it was a nice change to see Kentucky playing good defense for once. Kentucky had 21 takeaways (13 INT’s and 8 fumbles) which is the most of the Stoops era.

So with new Defensive coordinator Matt House stepping in to fill the void left DJ Elliot and Coach Stoops, will we see a better or worse defense? Jordan Jones returns for his Junior year leading the Wildcats defense, both in tackles and on-field leader.

The Wildcats also return the entirety of the secondary, with the exception of JD Harmon, and will be lead by Juniors Derrick Baity and Chris Westry. Kentucky needs to have a much better defense than previous seasons to even have a shot of surviving the SEC, and the talent on that side of the ball certainly seems to be there for this upcoming season.

NCAA Football: Austin Peay at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

And finally, Kentucky needs to steal some games if they want to win the East. The Cats have a very favorable schedule this upcoming season, playing seven games at Kroger Field, including games against Florida, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Louisville.

The four toughest games on the schedule for Kentucky seem to be Florida, at Georgia, Louisville, and Tennessee/at South Carolina. If the Wildcats can manage to steal at least two of those games, I can see them being in prime position for an East crown.

So that brings up the burning question: Is this the year that Kentucky beats Florida? If I were a betting man, I probably would not be betting on this game, but since I’m showing my bias, I can say with confidence that this is the year that the Gators go down and the Kroger Field goalposts come down as well.

Clear your schedules on September 23rd, Folks, there’s going to be a party in Lexington. Of course, they’ll have to win the games they’re supposed to win and cannot drop another season opener to Southern Miss.

NCAA Football: Georgia at Kentucky Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

If Kentucky can do all of these things, Atlanta isn’t such a crazy thought after all. Kentucky fans have been dreaming of the day that Kentucky is an SEC contender, with the closest we’ve come to seeing that being in 2007 . The talent is there, the schedule is there, the fan support is at an all-time high. So is it really crazy to think Kentucky can win the SEC East?

The answer: Why Not?