Has there ever been this much preseason hype surrounding the Kentucky football team? Even if there has been, the high expectations of star quarterback Will Levis and his teammates haven’t slowed down as the season has approached.
Kentucky is projected to be one of the best teams in the Southeastern Conference with some claiming the Wildcats can capture the SEC East regular season title and take a trip to Atlanta later this fall.
It’s fun to talk, predict and dream. However, those predictions and dreams can only come true if Kentucky executes on and off the football field. In a 12-game regular season, every win is significant, and Kentucky will have little to no room for error if they wish to exceed said expectations.
Starting running back Chris Rodriguez and starting outside linebacker Jordan Wright will miss the team’s season opener vs. Miami (OH) on Saturday. No one is certain when they’ll be able to play, but in the meantime, Kentucky will need their backups to embrace the “next man up” mentality.
The Miami (OH) RedHawks of the MAC will enter Saturday’s game as double-digit underdogs, but history shows us Kentucky’s early season opponents like to come out swinging.
With kickoff set for 7 pm ET, the all-day build up of energy should make for an electric atmosphere in Kroger Field, though be aware of rain likely hitting Kroger Field during the game.
Below we’ll break down the odds, betting trends, expert picks and give a prediction for Saturday night’s opener. Football is officially back in the bluegrass.
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, Kentucky is a -15 point favorite over Miami (OH) with the over/under currently set at 54. The Wildcats are favored by -6.5 points in the first quarter and -8.5 points in the first half. Their team total is set at 34.5 points.
- Kentucky is 12-3 SU in its last 15 games.
- Kentucky is 8-1 SU in its last 9 games at home.
- Kentucky is 10-0 SU in its last 10 games vs. MAC opponents.
- The total has gone OVER in 4 of Kentucky’s last 6 games.
- Miami is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games.
- Miami is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games.
- Miami is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games on the road.
- Miami is 0-7 SU in its last 7 games vs. SEC opponents.
- Pete Fiutak W/ College Football News — Kentucky 34, Miami (OH) 16
- Brett Dawson W/ Courier Journal — Kentucky 28, Miami (OH) 14
- TeamRankings — Kentucky 35, Miami (OH) 20
- Jon Hale W/ Herald-Leader — Kentucky 35, Miami (OH) 17
- Bill Connelly W/ ESPN — Kentucky 38, Miami (OH) 15
The predicted score below may be closer than the final outcome on Saturday, but keep in mind Kentucky will be missing veteran guard Kenneth Horsey in addition to Rodriguez and Wright.
The Wildcats will also start five freshman, as Jager Burton steps in for the injured Horsey, and David Wohlabaugh Jr. makes the start at left tackle. Freshmen Barion Brown and Dane Key will start at receiver, while Jordan Dingle will see action at fullback/tight end. After Kentucky lost several starters from last year’s offense, it was a given there would be a youth movement on this year’s unit.
Thankfully, Kentucky has Levis to lean on and iron out the miscues that we’ll likely see early on this season. For that reason, as well as it being the team’s first real game action of the year, a rocky start is certainly in the cards.
Kentucky starts off slow early, but their young stars on offense shake the normal first-half jitters and blossom en route to a comfortable win to start the season on top.
Kentucky 34, Miami (OH) 20