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2023 Kentucky Football Foes: Ball State

No one dominates the MAC like Kentucky.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: NOV 01 Ball State at Kent State Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Greetings, BBN!

It’s been a long offseason till that first September Saturday kickoff, but Week is nearly here, so we’re going to briefly preview all 12 opponents on the Kentucky Wildcats’ 2023 football schedule.

First up on UK’s plate is the Ball State Cardinals, hailing from the MAC and coming to Kroger Field on September 2nd. They will be the first of three straight non-Power Five opponents the Cats will get to ease into the year with, so hopefully, they aren’t too much trouble.

Let’s take a closer look at these redbirds.

Ball State at Kentucky

  • Time/Date: 12 pm ET on September 2nd
  • Location: Kroger Field
  • TV Channel: SEC Network
  • Early Odds: Kentucky is a 26.5-point favorite via DraftKings. ESPN FPI gives the Cats a 91.3% chance of winning.

Ball State finished 5-7 last season and ended the year on a three-game losing streak to miss out on bowl season, but hung tough all year and held every opponent but one to under 40 points (the one they didn’t was Tennessee in the season opener).

They are led by coach Mike Neu, who is entering his eighth season with the Cardinals and will hope to take them to their third bowl game under his tenure. Their best season with him came in 2020, when they went 7-1 and won the Arizona Bowl during the crazy covid season, and also won the MAC Championship.

Kentucky and Ball State have only faced off against each other one other time, with the Cats notching a 28-20 victory in 2001 when the program was really struggling and only won one other game the entire year. One thing that makes this game especially interesting for Kentucky is that it’s against a MAC team—a conference they are 35-7-1 all-time against, which is one of the most dominant MAC records of any SEC team.

Stoops’ squad (alas!) no longer has the nation’s longest active nonconference winning streak (thanks, Iowa), but they can continue the regular season part of it anyway by starting 1-0 against the Cardinals.

Prediction: This is a game Stoops has scheduled to shake off the offseason sleepies and get the bandwagon rolling with a big opening day at home. Kentucky rolls behind new transfer QB Devin Leary to an easy win like they did with Miami-Ohio in last year’s opener.

Kentucky 38, Ball State 13