One SEC media member picked the Kentucky Wildcats to win the SEC East and go on to play in the SEC Championship, though they were ultimately predicted to finish fifth in the division. Still, that one first place vote begs the question: What would have to happen for Kentucky to win the SEC East?
In order to keep this simple, let’s assume that the heavy favorite, Georgia, is the team to beat. There are two scenarios that are not necessarily impossible that would allow Kentucky to take the SEC East crown.
Assuming all other teams in the division finish 4-4 or worse, let’s begin with the least likely scenario.
Kentucky finishes 6-2 (including a loss to Georgia) in the SEC, but the Bulldogs only win 5.
To start this discussion, here is Kentucky’s SEC schedule:
Sept. 8 @ Florida
Sept. 22 vs. Mississippi State
Sept. 29 vs. South Carolina
Oct. 6 @ Texas A&M
Oct. 20 vs. Vanderbilt
Oct. 27 @ Missouri
Nov. 3 vs. Georgia
Nov. 10 @ Tennessee
Getting to 6-2 would be very tough and is highly unlikely. That would mean beating Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt, and Missouri and then two of Florida, Texas A&M, and Tennessee.
It would truly take a magical season to finish the SEC schedule at 6-2, and perhaps only slightly more farfetched than Georgia losing three games. Here is their schedule:
Sept. 8 @ South Carolina
Sept. 22 @ Missouri
Sept. 29 vs. Tennessee
Oct. 6 vs. Vanderbilt
Oct. 13 @ LSU
Oct. 27 vs. Florida
Nov. 3 @ Kentucky
Nov. 10 vs. Auburn
In order to get to three losses, the Bulldogs would have to lose two of three to LSU, Florida, and Auburn (two of those games are at home) and then have one loss that is a massive upset.
Coming off of a national championship appearance, that would be a massive disappointment for Georgia and is extremely unlikely.
Since I do now envision a possible scenario where Kentucky wins more than six games, there is only one other path to winning the SEC East, and I believe it is more plausible than the first.
Kentucky and Georgia finish 5-3, and Kentucky beats Georgia.
Look, in the first scenario Georgia had to suffer at least one massive upset. It is just as likely that comes against Kentucky in Lexington than any of the other SEC bottom feeders.
This scenario would allow Kentucky to drop a winnable game (Mississippi State, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Missouri) and only upset one of Florida, Texas A&M, or Tennessee. The route to five wins is much easier to believe than the route to six, but then they still have to beat the heavily favored Georgia Bulldogs.
In this scenario, Georgia would likely have to lose to Florida and then lose to one of the teams from the SEC West. I do not see them losing back-to-back games against LSU and Auburn.
This hypothetical situation would result in Kentucky and Georgia squaring off on November 3rd at Kroger Field with first place on the line. In a one game scenario at home, bigger upsets have happened.
This scenario would also put Kentucky’s SEC title game hopes all riding on beating Tennessee in Knoxville, which is a level of pressure I am not sure any of us are ready for.
Legitimately, there is a possible route for Kentucky to win the SEC East. It would require shocking results from both Georgia and Kentucky, but it would not be accurate to say it is impossible.
If it were two happen, one of these two scenarios would have to play out perfectly and would easily be the story of the year. So let’s make it happen.