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2023 Kentucky Football Foes: Eastern Kentucky

The Colonels haven’t played the Wildcats since 2017.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 09 Eastern Kentucky at Kentucky Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Greetings, BBN!

Today we continue previewing all the Kentucky Wildcats’ 2023 opponents, taking a look at Week 2 and the showdown with not an SEC school like in the last two years but with their annual FCS opponent, which this year will be the Eastern Kentucky Colonels.

This should (I’d hope!) get the Cats to an easy 2-0 two weeks into September and keep them undefeated against the FCS under Mark Stoops, though they’ve had some very close calls with the Colonels.

Let’s dive into this matchup.

EKU at Kentucky

  • Time/Date: 3 pm ET on September 9th
  • Location: Kroger Field
  • TV Channel: ESPN+
  • Early Odds: ESPN FPI gives the Cats a 98.5% chance of winning.

This will be the sixth meeting between the teams all-time, and Kentucky won all five of the previous games. The most recent one was a 26-17 home win with Stephen Johnson and Benny Snell during the 2017 season.

The one before that was one of the most nerve-wracking games of the entire Stoops Era, as the Cats barely escaped with a 34-27 overtime win after trailing 13-27 with 7:29 to go in the fourth quarter! Only by the skin of their teeth did they force overtime and retake the lead for good, but if they had lost that game, Stoops might not be the program’s coach today.

Kentucky has had some surprising letdowns vs. FCS foes under Stoops, most recently the 28-23 over UT-Chattanooga in 2021 during what would be the fourth 10-win season in program history. So while the Cats will be highly favored in this one, in won’t be a total shock if the Colonels are able to keep things interesting for four quarters.

EKU is coming off a 7-5 season that was highlighted by a seven-overtime 59-57 road win over the MAC’s Bowling Green for the uncommon FCS over FBS upset and hung tough in almost all their losses against quality competition. The Colonels will be super pumped to be playing in Lexington and will throw Kentucky their best punch, even if they are expected to lose by at least four touchdowns.

Prediction: No Power Five school can lose an FCS game. Ever. Even if they don’t win any other games the whole year. Even the really bad Kansas teams of the last decade can’t afford to lose them. This will be a big opportunity for the Cats to try new offensive schemes and rack up a boatload of points, and hopefully crack 50 in a very entertaining afternoon for Big Blue Nation

Kentucky 52, Eastern Kentucky 10