Looking ahead to week one of the college football season, Kentucky’s matchup against Auburn is easily the most intriguing game. Kentucky has potentially their deepest roster ever, the majority of a great defense is coming back, and quarterback Terry Wilson is finally healthy.
But will the Wildcats really stand a chance against the Tigers on the road? Brandon Marcello and Chris Hummer of 247 Sports think so, and they believe it may come down to the wire.
“Both Kentucky and Auburn will enter the year as Top 25 teams, and I’d consider the Tigers rather vulnerable,” Hummer wrote. “Both Auburn’s offensive and defensive lines are being reset, and Chad Morris is a new play caller. Kentucky, meanwhile, returns most of its production from last season. The Wildcats should also benefit from having quarterback Terry Wilson back in the lineup. The Lynn Bowden show last season was scintillating, but Wilson brings a needed passing element back to the offense. Had this game taken place in Lexington, I’d probably lean Kentucky. But I like the Tigers to pull this one out by the slimmest of margins. … Auburn 20, Kentucky 17”
Marcello is in complete agreement, calling this game his “upset alert of Week 1” and predicting a 17-14 Auburn victory. Read the entirety of Hummer and Marcello’s week one SEC picks here.
As for the season, Brad Crawford and Bud Elliot at 247 Sports are not betting on the Wildcats finishing with a losing record despite the tough schedule. Why? Because Mark Stoops has proven people wrong one too many times.
“Underestimate Mark Stoops at your own risk,” Elliot wrote as he predicts a 6-4 record for Kentucky. “Kentucky is one of the surest bets to be a solid to decent SEC team every year.”
While Crawford has Kentucky going 5-5, he believes that the week one match-up could set the tone for the season. “There might not be a more important opener in the SEC this season in terms of trajectory for both programs than Kentucky’s trip to Auburn,” he wrote. “That one will be the difference in a .500 finish or six wins for the Wildcats.”
There were many years when fans were clamoring for two or three conference wins in any given season. But even with a full slate of SEC opponents, it seems the Kentucky program has finally arrived at a place when disappointment is not the expectation.
Read the rest of the 247 Spots SEC season record projections here.