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Will a trip to the SEC Championship Game be easier or harder in 2024?

This is UK’s last season in the SEC East.

Alabama v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Since the inception of the SEC Championship game in 1992, the Kentucky Wildcats have yet to play for the conference crown, coming close several times to first place in the SEC East but never being able to finish the regular season on top of Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, South Carolina, Missouri, and Vanderbilt.

In 2018, a home victory against Georgia would’ve clinched a trip, and in 2021, the team was 6-0 heading into a game in Athens. This season will be the final time that UK’s path to Mercedes-Benz Stadium will run through these six teams.

Beginning in 2024, the SEC will eliminate divisions and send the top two teams of the 16-team standings to Atlanta, which will make things easier for some teams and more difficult for others.

What about UK? Will going to the SEC Championship game be easier this year or next? Let’s take a closer look:

This year’s SEC schedule, like always, requires the Cats to finish ahead of the six other teams in their division and defeat most of them. Starting in 2024, they will not have to play all six of these teams annually—Missouri will be absent from the schedule for the first time since the Tigers joined the league and East division in 2012—and will play three foes that are not on this year’s docket: at Texas, at Ole Miss, and Auburn in Lexington.

The three primary competitors this year are Georgia, Tennessee, and Florida, and the primary competitors in 2024 will be Oklahoma, Texas, Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Tennessee, and maybe others.

To have a realistic shot at winning the division this year, UK needs to defeat Georgia and probably Tennessee to have a tiebreaker in the standings, all while going 5-1 or better against the rest (including Alabama).

In 2024, the opponents will be a little different for everybody, but the number of competitors goes up. Here’s the way it breaks down:

  • 2023: Win at Georgia and beat Tennessee at home. Go 5-1 against the rest, or maybe 4-2.
  • 2024: Go at least 7-1. Hope for chaos and that any team they lose to finishes at least 6-2 in the league.

Going forward, I think it will be harder for UK because they’ll likely have to go 7-1 in schedules that will now have Alabama, Georgia, Oklahoma, and the other heavyweights at least twice every four years (and some years all the heavyweights at once!), but also easier in that they don’t have to defeat Georgia and Tennessee and Florida all in the same season with no slip-ups against any of those three teams if they happen to be good.

You don’t have to beat Georgia every year if they aren’t on your schedule every year. My guess, without thinking about how good the team will be this year or next, is that next year will be easier since 7-1 isn’t impossible, they won’t have both Georgia and Alabama, and the 12-team playoff chase might cause some chaos up top in the SEC.

Also, I just do not see the Cats winning in Athens and beating Tennessee and going 4-2 against the rest when that rest includes Florida, at Mississippi State, Alabama, and even at an on-the-rise South Carolina team.

What’s your opinion?


Cats more likely to make SEC Championship game in 2023 or 2024?

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  • 67%
    (87 votes)
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    (41 votes)
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