SEC SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN: KENTUCKY
The pick: Kentucky Wildcats.
League Finish: 13th
Division Finish: 7th
SEC Record: 1-7
Overall Record: 4-8
Bowl Game: none
Things haven’t been good for Kentucky football in a long time and this year won’t be any different for the Cats. For Kentucky head coach Mark Stoops that won’t be good. There is already talk going on this could be the last season for Stoops if he doesn’t show improvement.
Despite some talented players on the roster the Cats still just don’t seem to have the right pieces in place to get out of the basement in the SEC East. Stoops needs a bowl trip to save his job more than likely, but I don’t see it being possible for UK this season.
Their ceiling is 6-6 and they have a floor of 2-10. So, there is a slight chance the Cats could go bowling in 2016, but they will need to win serval swing games to make that happen.
Patrick Towles is gone and while he wasn’t an elite quarterback, the Cats didn’t go out and get anyone that is a step above him for the 2016 season. Stanley ‘Boom’ Williams and Jojo Kemp are both back for the Cats in the backfield, but there are questions on the Offensive Line that could limit the duos production.
That’s why I think the Wildcats go 4-8 and miss a bowl game in 2016.
Week one Kentucky vs. Southern Miss Sat, Sept. 3rd
The Cats should start the season with a win over the Golden Eagles. However, Southern Miss senior quarterback Nick Mullens is on the 2016 Walter Camp Player of the Year Award watch list and could challenge the Cats defense in week one. The Wildcats offense should be able to run all over the Eagles and give UK the win.
Week two Kentucky @ Florida Sat, Sept. 10th
Kentucky couldn’t have a worse way to start off SEC play in 2016 as they head to Gainesville in week two. The weather could very well play a factor in this one as it will be at 3:30 p.m. ET kick-off on CBS and that favors the Gators. While Florida has plenty of questions they need to answer in 2016, they will handle the Cats easily. Florida wins and Kentucky starts the year 1-1.
Week three Kentucky vs. New Mexico St. Sat, Sept. 17th
Kentucky will rebound from a beat down in ‘The Swamp’ with a win over New Mexico St. If for some reason the Cats stumble and lose this game Stoops might not make it to the midway point of the season. This is a must win for the Cat and one they should win easily.
Week four Kentucky vs. South Carolina Sat, Sept. 24th
The second SEC East game of the season for the Cats is one they could win and the first of several swing games on the schedule for UK. The Gamecocks will be interesting to see early on with Will Muschamp taking over the program. This game while it may not look it on paper, it could be one of the best games in the SEC this year. Why? Because both teams will be bad this season, but they are two of the closets matched teams in the league. This should result in a very competitive game and I give USC the slight advantage at this point. Kentucky starts out SEC play 0-2 and it will only get worse.
Week five Kentucky @ Alabama Sat, Oct. 1st
The month of October has several swing games in it for Kentucky, but this isn’t one of them. To put it nicely Alabama is just too good for the Cats to keep up with.
Week six Kentucky vs. Vanderbilt Sat, Oct. 8th
This is the second swing game for Kentucky on the schedule and once again a win here could go a long way in determining Stoops job status. Vandy will once again have one of the best defenses in the nation this season. Yes, you heard that right. The Commodores where 27th in total defense last season and 36th verse the run. It should be more of the same on defense for Vandy this season. You take that and add an improved offense and it’s the Commodores that take this one. 0-4 to start SEC play and Mark Stoops is in trouble heading into week seven.
Week seven Kentucky vs. Mississippi State Sat, Oct. 22nd
The Cats will be coming off a much needed buy week and will be looking at yet another swing game in SEC play. This one could be interesting due to the fact Kentucky could have an interim head coach if things go like I think they will. If Stoops still has his job he will be coaching for each week. That’s why the Cats win this one, you can never really judge what emotions and rumoes can do to a team. In this case I think it’s the win one for coach scenario for Kentucky.
Week eight Kentucky @ Missouri Sat, Oct. 29th
Its yet another swing game for Kentucky, they should be coming off their first SEC win. The question is can they carry the momentum over from last week. The answer is no, in part because the emotions will get the better of the Cats this week. Just like Vandy Missouri will have one of the best defenses in the nation this season. This should be a low scoring game and a winnable one for Kentucky. That being said the Tigers take this one.
Week nine Kentucky vs. Georgia Sat, Nov. 5th
This game will be between two teams going in totally different directions. We have a Georgia team that will be competing for a trip to Atlanta and a Kentucky team that is looking for its fourth win of the season. It will also be one of the best running back core matchups of the season. The difference her is the Dogs defense can slow down Kentucky’s running backs. Whereas the Cats defense won’t be able to slow down the Dogs backs. Georgia wins in a blow out, that may not even be close early
Week ten Kentucky @ Tennessee Sat, Nov. 12th
The Cats head to Knoxville for a mid-November game in Neyland Stadium against the Vols. This script will look a lot like the Kentucky/Georgia game form week nine. Two teams lead by their running back duos and looking to run all over their opponents. The similarities don’t stop there, as Tennessee will have a far superior defense to Kentucky. While the Vols also have the better running back combo, unlike Georgia the Vols have a top quarterback. To put it nicely the Vols are simply too good in every aspect of the game for Kentucky to keep up.
Week eleven Kentucky vs. Austin Peay Sat, Nov. 19th
The Wildcats should come in to this game with a record of 3-7 and just looking for something positive heading into a week twelve matchup with Louisville. This game should be a win for the Cats as they will have the superior talent level. However, if there is a trap game on Kentucky’s schedule this you Austin Peay could be it. The season will be going bad and you have your rivals coming up next. Beating Louisville won’t take the bitter taste out of Kentucky’ mouth, but it will help. Kentucky wins this game if they can avoid looking ahead to the Cards.
Week twelve Kentucky @ Louisville Sat, Nov. 26th
We have hit the final week of the regular season and its time for several SEC vs. ACC rivalry games. That’s what we know have in the matchup of Kentucky and Louisville. Both of these teams should be out of the pitcher for a trip to a conference championship game, but unlike Kentucky the Cards should be playing for bowl game seating. Louisville should pick off the Cats in 2016 and end the Mark Stoops era in Lexington if he is still the coach at seasons end.
Just like Auburn the season won’t go well for the Wildcats and there will be plenty of talk about the head coach. Both Auburn and Kentucky could be looking for new head coaches by seasons end. Kentucky should wind up with a zero in the win column in SEC East play. When you look at how weak the East is from top to bottom, that simply won’t cut it for the fans in Lexington.
Stay tuned for next week when I reveal my picks for No. 12 and 11, until than enjoy the what’s left of your football free Saturdays.