Going into the bye week, the Wildcats sit “pretty” at 5-1. We’ve seen some ugly victories, injuries pile up, and production struggles from various position groups, but the football team now has two weeks to regroup.
Luckily for them, the next several games following the bye week are absolutely winnable, and if they play their cards right, we could be set up for the best regular season since 1977.
Here is the blueprint to Kentucky’s 9-1 start and a shot at Atlanta.
The Bulldogs started the year 3-0, and after an annihilation of the LSU Tigers, many analysts felt they may be the team to beat in the SEC West.
Since then, however, Mississippi State has been blown out in two consecutive games, and the team as a whole has looked extremely mortal.
After a bye week this past weekend and an upcoming game against BYU (1-5), they could be coming into their matchup with the Wildcats in two weeks fresh and firing on all cylinders.
As we saw last season, Nick Fitzgerald is a legitimate dual-threat quarterback and could put a hurting on Kentucky’s defense. That being said, the Bulldogs have not dramatically improved from last season. They are well-coached, talented, and deep at most positions, but they are not an elite football team.
If the Wildcats come out of the bye week loose and play up to their ability, they will win. Make careless mistakes, commit turnovers, and they’ll go home 5-2.
As of today, the Tennessee Volunteers are an absolute dumpster fire, and there are no immediate resolutions to put the flames out.
If Butch Jones is still the head coach of the Volunteers when they come to Lexington, I’m extremely confident in Kentucky pulling off the victory. The Wildcats are better at most positions, they’re better coached, and almost no one still supports the UT administration for tolerating it. Yet they’ve adamantly stood behind him as the orange-tinted fanbase slowly crumbles into nothingness.
If Jones is fired, I’m a little more hesitant. Teams get weirdly confident and rally around interim head coaches, so I’d rather watch the collapse continue.
Kentucky sends Jones into unemployment with a victory over Tennessee.
This is an absolutely winnable game for Kentucky, and they will almost certainly be favored going into it. But it won’t be a cakewalk, especially if the Wildcat defense slacks.
Similar to Missouri, the Rebels have a prolific offense and a mediocre defense. They gave up 27 points to South Alabama, 23 to UT-Martin, and 27 on the road against California. In their first two conference games, they gave up a combined 110 points to Alabama and Auburn.
Shea Patterson has put up over 340 yards in four of five contests, with a total of 1792 yards, 13 touchdowns, six interceptions, and a QBR of 156.2. Three Ole Miss receivers have touchdown receptions of 70 yards or more, and five receivers with over 250 yards on the year.
If Kentucky’s secondary doesn’t get it together, the Rebels will put up massive numbers. If the Wildcat offense struggles, this could set up to be an embarrassing loss at Kroger Field.
After starting the year 3-0, fans held up signs with “We want Bama” plastered over the front.
The Crimson Tide then went to Nashville and knocked off the Commodores by a score of 59-0. It was an obliteration in all facets of the game.
The following week, they lost to Florida 38-24 in the Swamp, and then Georgia slaughtered them 45-14 this past Saturday.
Derek Mason is a solid coach and this isn’t the same Vandy program of recent memory, but they’re nothing special on either side of the football. Kyle Shurmur has thrown for 1157 yards, 12 touchdowns, and just one interception, but Stephen Johnson has put up similar stats. Ralph Webb was supposed to be one of the best running backs in America this season, but he has only rushed for 245 yards on 87 carries, good for just 2.8 YPC.
The Wildcats will have to make it happen on the road, but they will be favored in the second weekend of November for a potential ninth win of the season.
Kentucky vs. Georgia for the SEC East title.
Both teams ranked in the top 15.