It’s been a long eight months since we last saw the Kentucky Wildcats take the football field. Their last appearance was in the Music City Bowl, where the Cats were edged out by Northwestern in their second bowl appearance under head coach Mark Stoops.
Now, heading into his sixth year, Stoops will lead a veteran defense with a highly skilled offense into a week one matchup against the Central Michigan Chippewas.
The Chippewas were 8-4 last season with a blowout loss to Wyoming in the Potato bowl. Like Kentucky, their roster features a new starting quarterback along with a veteran running back.
However, they’re not as talented at the wide receiver position and especially on the defensive side of the ball.
With the spread opening at -20 in favor of the Wildcats, the current line has been bet down to -17 with an over/under of 49 according to both Bovada and 5Dimes.
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Kentucky a 88.7% chance of victory. OddsShark is predicting a score of 24-23, Cats.
TeamRankings is going with a 32-17 win for the home team, while numberFire projects a 31-21 win for the Cats.
With Stoops not being the best against the spread (he’s actually the worst), this could speak reason as to why the line moved so drastically against Kentucky.
Here is what the experts are saying about Kentucky vs. Central Michigan:
Michael Bratton – Saturday Down South:
“Central Michigan may have stood a better chance (the Chippewas went 8-5 last season) before the team’s running back went and shot off at the mouth, calling out Kentucky’s defense (which may be fair) and Benny Snell (not fair at all). The CMU running back just wrote a check his defense can’t possibly cash. These comments also came after Snell personally promised Big Blue Nation a special season was coming.
The only hope for CMU here may be that Terry Wilson proves to be a bust at quarterback and costs Kentucky the game. Otherwise, Snell may manage to carry his team on his back by himself in this one. I’ll take the Wildcats to win but CMU to cover.”
Kentucky 30, CMU 20
Chris Marler – Saturday Down South:
“I love MACtion just as much as the next guy, and Central Michigan has beaten a Power 5 team three years in a row. However, they only return 10 starters from last year’s team. I think Kentucky has a lot to prove this year after giving away a win vs. Florida, a win vs. Ole Miss, and subsequently a 9-3 season. Kentucky wins and covers in their first home game of the season where they are 11-1 in their last 12 openers.”
Kentucky 44, CMU 17
Pete Fiutak – College Football News:
“To be really, really, really annoying about this one key point – Kentucky was outstanding last season when it took the ball away, and struggled when it didn’t.
The D that had so many problems forcing mistakes over the second half of the season will make up for it in the opener, but it’ll be Snell who makes the game his as he controls the clock and the UK is going to win because the running game will be way, way stronger.
And because it’ll be +2 in turnover margin.”
Kentucky 31, Central Michigan 17
Darrell Bird: Kentucky 48, Central Michigan 17
Derek Terry: Kentucky 28, Central Michigan 13
Chris Fisher: Kentucky 27, Central Michigan 17
Josh Edwards: Kentucky 35, Central Michigan 10
Gary Moyers: Kentucky 35, Central Michigan 14.
John Francis Morgan: After Wednesday’s practice, front-seven leaders Josh Allen and Kash Daniel put high emphasis on making a statement early. With Jamar “Boogie” Watson tearing up training camp, along with a healthy Jordan Jones and a no-fly-zone secondary, Kentucky’s defense is poised for a standout performance.
Add in arguably the best running back in the South Eastern Conference and a handful of talented skill-position players, it’s hard to see the Wildcats faulting in their home opener. Kentucky makes a statement early and cruises to victory.
Kentucky 31, Central Michigan 13.
Jordan Abrams: I think the Cats will come out with a fast start and Benny breaks one for 50+ yards. Benny finishes with over 120 yards rushing and I think we don’t see him much in the second half as Stoops is going to want to save him for Florida.
Terry Wilson will have a big game through the air and expose that smaller defensive back core. The Wildcats will control the line of scrimmage and win the game big.
Kentucky 42, Central Michigan 13.