As a Kentucky Wildcats fan, those words are usually used to describe the men’s basketball team. But, finally those words are being used to describe the Wildcat football program.
Led by All-American candidates Benny Snell Jr. and Josh Allen, the Cats have exploded out to a 5-1 record (3-1 SEC) and a #14 national ranking. The only blemish to their record is a 20-14 overtime loss in College Station to Texas A&M.
The bye week came at a good time for Wildcat fans to catch their breath and consider where the Cats are and what the rest of the regular season holds. The staff at A Sea of Blue has gathered at the roundtable to hash out how they think UK will finish up this so-far magical season.
Kentucky is favored for the first time this season against an SEC opponent. The Wildcats are not only coming off a game they feel they should’ve won but have had an extra week to grow even hungrier to retain the tase of victory. Vanderbilt, coming off an emotional home loss last week to the Florida Gators, are in for another exhausting task.
Starting quarterback Terry Wilson has had two weeks of hearing criticism he rightfully deserves. As a talented athlete, especially a QB, it’s not irrational to anticipate a bounce back game by Wilson in the pocket. While it seems ignorant to doubt a starter who is 5-1, it feels as if he has something to prove in front of Big Blue Nation.
Kentucky’s defense and rushing attack are both fundamentally sound, which should line up for a big day at Kroger Field.
Along with a win on Saturday, the Cats can’t ignore focusing in on a potential trip to Atlanta. However, in order to achieve that certain goal, they must follow head coach Mark Stoops’s one-game-at-a-time formula. IF Kentucky can get Wilson going from the pocket, they should have what it takes to win out this season and make the trip to the SEC championship game.
Final score: Kentucky 34, Vanderbilt 13
Kentucky’s second half of their season looks bright. The bye week should have allowed UK’s coaching staff to take the necessary steps to adjust for the back-half of their season.
UK’s success ultimately comes down to the continued development of QB Terry Wilson. His run game is elite but as teams load the box to stop Benny Snell & AJ Rose, Wilson has to utilize TE CJ Conrad & WR Lynn Bowden Jr in the passing game.
The Cats have many opportunities down the stretch to continue what’s been a special season. As of now, Kentucky should win two straight against the Commodores & Missouri Tigers before dropping a close home game against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Kentucky would then have a 7-2 record with a chance to close the season at 10-2 with wins over Tennessee, Middle Tennessee & Louisville. If the Wildcats can get any help from Georgia’s remaining schedule, the opportunity to go to Atlanta is there.
Kentucky is on pace for a 10-win season. While the beginning has been exciting, the Cats still have their work cut out to win the SEC East. Therefore, Cats’ fans shouldn’t hold their breath for an appearance in the SEC championship game.
10/20 Vanderbilt: Vanderbilt looks a bit improved, but are far from special. Kentucky will have Vandy at home under the lights with a homecoming crowd. Kentucky should win this one without much stress.
Kentucky 34 Vanderbilt 10
10/27 @ Missouri: Another game against an SEC East foe that has slightly improved. The danger at Mizzou is Drew Lock, who is one of the best players in the nation. However, the Tigers don’t have much of a defense & their home field isn’t the most intimidating environment. The outcome may be closer than some anticipate.
Kentucky 27 Missouri 17
11/3 Georgia: After struggling in all three phases & falling at LSU, this game became much more interesting. The atmosphere on November 3rd may best of any football game in Kentucky history. However, last week’s result also puts Georgia’s back against the wall with their playoff hopes relying on winning-out. Thus, Georgia should win a close game.
Georgia 17 Kentucky 14
11/10 @ Tennessee: The Vols are rebuilding but managed to blow out a quality Auburn team on the road last week. This makes a trip to Knoxville a little more of a challenge. The last time Kentucky beat Tennessee in back to back seasons was 1976-1977. In a game UK needs to win, the veteran group should pull through.
Kentucky 20 Tennessee 14
11/17 Middle Tennessee: Senior day against a non-conference opponent. This won’t be much of a contest though Middle Tennessee does have a quality quarterback in Brent Stockstill.
Kentucky 33 Middle Tennessee 10
11/24 @ Louisville: It’s been a miserable season for the Cardinals with the better days seeming to be far away. As the Big Blue Nation should travel to Louisville, the Cats should end their regular season in style.
Kentucky 38 Louisville 10
As Georgia should defeat the Cats, there will not be an SEC Championship birth for UK this season. However, at 10-2 they should undoubtedly play on New Year’s Day. Maybe in Tampa Florida’s Outback Bowl against the Iowa Hawkeyes?
What a wild ride this season has been. My preseason prediction was 6-6 & I’m thrilled to have been so wrong. This Kentucky team may be the most impressive of my lifetime (there is no doubt that the defense is) & the opportunity exists to leave a mark in the UK football history books.
With Vanderbilt, Missouri, Georgia, Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State & Louisville remaining, the Wildcats should finish the season just as they started: 5-1.
As it may come as a surprise, don’t be convinced that Georgia will hand Kentucky a loss. Missouri is dangerous & Tennessee is looking better by the week, making that a difficult three-game stretch.
Kentucky will go 10-3, including a loss in the SEC Championship Game to Alabama. The Wildcats will win the SEC East, shocking the Big Blue Nation.
Kentucky has exceeded all expectations to this point in the season. An overtime loss away from being undefeated is an incredible start.
UK’s dominant defense shows promise for a strong finish as well. With each team essentially having to game plan on just how to stop Josh Allen on the edge, the rest of the unit should improve even more down the stretch.
After defense, Kentucky also has Benny Snell in their back field. The combination of both a sound defense & running attack has proven to be a valid formula for winning.
Football is unpredictable, especially Kentucky football. However, that shouldn’t hold the Wildcats back from finishing the season 10-2.
With a regular season defeat of Georgia, Kentucky would then likely meet Alabama in the SEC Championship. Nick Saban with time to prepare is lethal, leaving a Kentucky victory doubtful.
A 5-1 start is very promising for the Kentucky Wildcats. Their early-season dominance has Big Blue Nation excited for the rest of the year. Benny Snell is a Heisman Trophy candidate and Josh Allen is one of the most dominant defenders in college football.
With Georgia falling at LSU, the Bulldogs & Wildcats each have one loss with the SEC East up to grabs. Who represents the SEC in the Conference Championship Game could very well come down to the first week in November when Georgia comes to Kroger Field to face the Cats. However, getting to Atlanta will require an entire season’s body of work.
Vanderbilt - Kentucky shouldn’t lose at home to a team that without an SEC win this season.
@ Missouri - This is a must-win to keep Kentucky’s dreams of Atlanta alive.
Georgia - Kentucky is new to the spotlight, while the Bulldogs are runner-up for the NCAA title.
@ Tennessee - Tennessee improves as the weeks go by but Kentucky should be able to win a close game.
Middle Tennessee - Kentucky will make easy work of the Lightning.
@ Louisville - Like Vanderbilt, Louisville is in a down year.
A record of 10-2 should land Kentucky a stellar bowl game. Perhaps the Citrus Bowl or the Outback Bowl?
Kentucky fans couldn’t have asked for a better start to 2018. At 5-1, the Wildcats have had a historical first-half of the season that hardly anyone saw coming.
For the majority of the year, the highlight has been Benny Snell Jr.’s Heisman campaign. Snell has amassed almost 700 yards & rushed for eight touchdowns through six games. After Snell, Kentucky’s defense is also having a standout season. Led by Josh Allen & Kash Daniel, UK has held all of their opponents to under 21 points.
For the second half of the season, Kentucky’s main threat is a home game against the Georgia Bulldogs. Kentucky’s season could depend on whether or not they beat the Bulldogs on November 3rd.
By late December, Kentucky should be 10-2 and en route to their third consecutive bowl appearance.
The first half of Kentucky Football’s 2018 season has been a major success and, quite frankly, not one that many saw coming.
With the second half of the season underway, UK’s final six games are Vanderbilt, at Missouri, Georgia, at Tennessee, Middle Tennessee State & at Louisville.
The Wildcats should handle both the Commodores & Tigers on the road but could fall to Georgia on Nov. 3rd. However, Kentucky’s defense could change that fortune.
A potential loss in one of their final three games is possibility fans should accept, though a 9-3 finish to the season is something they should also appreciate.
What else could UK fans have asked for? While the A&M loss was a heartbreaker, any Kentucky fan would have gladly taken this 5-1 start before the season began.
Next week, the Cats host Vanderbilt & should control the game with extended rest. With the next opponent being on the road at Mizzou, the game seems to be a true toss-up.
Next, Kentucky will play their biggest game of the year. Kentucky should keep it close, but could also fall to Georgia at home.
Tennessee shocked the Auburn Tigers last weekend, but still have long way to go to be considered a SEC threat. Kentucky hasn’t won at Tennessee since 1984, but this streak wouldn’t be the first ended this year by the Wildcats.
Middle Tennessee State is a respectable group, but Kentucky really shouldn’t lose here.
Lastly, the Cats go to Louisville for their annual rivalry game. Expect the Cardinals’ sluggish start to continue while the Wildcats cruise to the win.
While their odds of playing in the SEC championship game remain doubtful, this season is a vast improvement from years past.
Kentucky is off to a solid start this year and, unlike previous years, this team feels different.
With Kentucky sitting at 5-1 coming out of their bye week, Kentucky should finish 9-3 with a chance at the Outback bowl.
Kentucky will likely drop their matchup with Georgia. LSU served as a wake-up call to a very talented Bulldogs team that could potentially win-out.
Kentucky’s road game at Missouri seems like a trap. Mizzou’s offense is well-balanced with a strong offensive line. If the game becomes a shootout, that could spell trouble for the Wildcats.
Another trap game could be at Tennessee. The Volunteers are improving each week behind playmakers Jarrett Guarantano & Ty Chandler, both of whom had big games against the Wildcats last year.
A final record of 9-3, going into a bowl game, is definitely one to be celebrated.