Kentucky had some great games against Arkansas in the past. Of course, the 7 overtime game is still an NCAA record. This year I think the Razorbacks should prevail against the Wildcats and even this reviewer from Kentucky below agrees. He has his hopes up that they will win against Georgia and Tennessee and I know that their history against those teams in the past has been very bleak. Hope springs eternal I guess.
We’ve touched on Kentucky’s 2012 schedule a couple of times since its release, but not really in depth. While it may be way too early to even think about the outcome of the 2012 season, I’m going to try to peer into the ole crystal ball and see into the future a little bit.
Kentucky will be rebuilding to an extent in 2012. The Offense will return several key players at key positions. Both quarterbacks that saw starting reps will return in Maxwell Smith and Morgan Newton, every scholarship running back will be back this season and the receiving corps lost only Matt Roark. There will be a question mark along the offensive line, but starters Matt Smith and Larry Warford will be back along with oft used freshman Darrian Miller. Several playmakers will be coming off of their redshirt seasons at the skill positions, and the offensive line will be restocked with Zach West coming off of his redshirt season and the addition of several new recruits. The defense though, will have to replace five starters. The defensive line will return every player that played meaningful snaps except Luke McDermott and Mark Crawford. Three linebacker spots and both starting cornerbacks will be open after the departure of the five starting seniors from 2011, but a recruiting class full of talent and depth should help out in addition to the backups who should be ready to step up.
Overall, the 2012 team should be talented, but plenty of question marks should make for an interesting season.
On to the schedule…
I’ve separated out the games into three categories. WINs are games that Kentucky should win. Games marked LOSS are contests in which the Cats will have little hope for victory. The games listed as TOSS UP are the ones that should be the most interesting. While UK may not be favored, these are games Kentucky can win if they come to play.
9/1/12 – @ Louisville
Kentucky stumbled to a loss against the Cardinals this past season despite the many question marks surrounding theLouisvilleprogram. This year, the Cardinals will be more experienced and will get the Cats at home. Call me crazy, but I’m not overly impressed with the roster Charlie Strong has assembled.
9/8/12 – vs. KentState
The Golden Flashes aren’t a bad team, but they’re a team Kentucky should beat. Scares against WKU and Central Michigan this past season should ensure that the team doesn’t take any opponent lightly. Unless the wheels completely fall off, this one should be a W.
9/15/2012 –vs. Western Kentucky
I don’t think the Hilltoppers are as sure of a win as a lot of other fans. WKU has improved and is continuing to bring in talented players. Add to that, that in-state opponents always seem to bring the best out of a team, and this game makes me a little uneasy. All that considered, Kentucky will be the better team, and will be playing Western at home, and the game will actually be on a Saturday this time.
9/22/12 – @ Florida
The Gators are in a state of flux right now. Will Muschamp didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first season, and the offense will be replacing offensive coordinator Charlie Weis and quarterback John Brantley. Still, beating the Gators in the Swamp is always tough and Florida will not be overlooking the Cats after their 2011 campaign. I just don’t see the Cats pulling this one out right now.
9/29/12 – vs. South Carolina
The Gamecocks had a decent season last year, but failed to live up to the lofty expectations of winning the conference. Most of the talent from last years’ team will return and another excellent recruiting class will restock the cabinet from the players that are gone. I highly doubt we see the blowout loss that the Gamecocks handed Kentucky in Columbia, but this one looks like a long shot at best.
10/6/12 – vs.MississippiState
The Bulldogs started out 2011 looking like a top-10 team, but petered off quickly and barely held on to beat Kentucky in Lexington. The Cats will actually welcome MSU into town again this year and this should be a good game once again. It’s tough to say who will be favored at this point, but I think this one could really go wither way.
10/13/12 – @Arkansas
The Razorbacks were overshadowed by LSU and Alabama this season, but they were still one of the best teams in the country. Bobby Petrino has managed to recruit some serious talent to go along with his unique offense and the combination has proved lethal. Kentuckymight have a chance in Lexington, but winning in Fayetteville is probably a pipe dream at this point.
10/20/12 – vs. Georgia
It seems like Georgia produces a top-10 recruiting class each year and always finds a way to replace the players they lose quickly. After starting slow in 2011, they ramped it up late in the season and it looked like they might win the conference at halftime of the SEC Championship. As good as Georgia is, I still think Kentucky has a pretty decent shot at the Bulldogs this year due to the game being in Lexington this year and the ridiculously high number of Georgians on the UK roster that are likely looking forward to getting a shot at the Bulldogs. This one might surprise some people.
10/27/12 – @ Missouri
The Tigers are likely to have a tough year in their first season competing in the SEC and Kentucky will need to take advantage of that. As the new SEC East team, Misouri will come in as a solid squad, but not a juggernaut. It will be important for the Cats to compete against them and make sure that they don’t fall down a rung in the conference ladder. A win at Missouri will be tough, but not impossible.
11/03/2012 – vs. Vanderbilt
The Commodores handed Kentucky a loss in Nashvilletthis past year and will return much of the talent from coach Franklin’s debut season. That’s great and all, but Vanderbilt is still Vanderbilt and winning on the road is always tough in this conference. I expect this to be a close game and a loss wouldn’t surprise me, but I’m leaning more towards a Kentucky “W” than an “L.”
11/17/2012 – vs. Samford
Kentuckywill be coming off of their bye week when Samford comes to town. We all remember Appalachian State, Jacksonville State, and James Madison beating BCS-conference teams over the last few years, but Samford overtaking the Wildcats would be a shocker.
1/24/2012 – @ Tennessee
The Wildcats finally broke ‘the streak’ this past year, so the monkey is finally of the team’s back. Tennessee will be rebuilding to an extent and Derek Dooley may not even be the team’s coach by the time this game is played. I would think that the Volunteers would be looking to avenge the loss in Lexington, but they will not have the talent that Tennessee teams of the past have had. Kentucky will probably be an underdog, but I think a win is not out of the question.
By my estimation, Kentucky should have a season somewhere in between 3-9 and 10-2. I know that seems like a ridiculous range, but there are just more winnable games on this schedule than there have been in the last few years. Realistically, a 6-6 or 7-5 season is about where this team should finish, but a lot will hinge on the Louisville game. If Kentucky can start the season with a bang, we could have a surprising trip in 2012.
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