2020 Kentucky Wildcats Football Preview:
It’s that time, ladies and gentlemen! Football season is upon us and I get to publish my first “official” prediction for the 2020 season!
Now you may be asking yourselves some very valid questions. Like, will there even be football? Will it be a full season? Will there be fans? And who is this guy?
Short answer: I don’t know.
However, here is my preview of the 2020 football season:
Sept 3: Eastern Michigan
Home (Lexington, KY)
They say “revenge is a dish best served cold”, but in this case, revenge will be a dish best served on a humid night in the bluegrass. We may have won the game, but we lost something bigger, Terry Wilson.
Touchdown Terry seems to be healthy, motivated and ready to bring back our passing game. We bring back a trio at running back and an experienced defense to help his transition
Best Case: We come in fired up and pick up right where we left off! We are better (and deeper) than EMU at every level. If we see hyped up TW3, then this could get ugly fast. Heck, we may even see ole Sawyer again
Worst Case: We start sluggish, overlook them for being a MAC school and find our self in a close entering the fourth quarter
Most likely: A mix of both. Terry comes out slinging, trying to find a rhythm and he’ll probably be a little rusty. Stoops realizes he has a monster line and a 3 headed monster at running back and just pounds out a 28 point win.
Sept 12: Florida
Away (Gainesville, FL)
This one is always a tough game. One win in 30+ years says it all. However, we have been so close the last few years, which somehow makes it worse.
Florida is coming in with some SEC hype and, like normal, Kentucky is being questioned. Honesty, I think prefer it that way. Florida will have a power returning and they will be a solid team, but fully believe Kentucky is just as good, if not better, especially up front.
Best Case: It’s 2018, we go back to “The Swamp” and Terry lights it up. We flex our muscle and jump to a big lead and do not let up (unlike last year and at times, even the year before). Terry throws a few early TDs and our backs “Finish them” like it’s Mortal Kombat!
Worst Case: Well, we can imagine. We’ve seen it before. Go to Gainesville and the team just doesn’t bring it. Now I will say, this team seems way too good to get waxed like previous times, but I can see a team still coming in unprepared.
Most Likely: It’ll be a slug fest. I can see us coming out hot and taking an early lead! But Florida won’t just lay down and lose, they’ll regain momentum. I see Terry leading us to a game winning drive, I’m gonna call a last passing touchdown to Ali.
Sept 19: Kent St
Home (Lexington, KY)
Kent St, another MAC school, will come in and attempted to get paid to beat us. The ‘Flash will be returning their main QB from last season, in Dustin Crum, which was their leading passer and rusher. So the team may want to keep in mind his ability to move.
Best Case: Kentucky takes advantage of a lesser opponent and wins easily. With the (relatively) new redshirt rule, these games are increasingly important, this could be an opportunity to see freshmen would typically wouldn’t play AND maintain their redshirt eligibility.
Worst Case: We come into this game with some sort of “hangover” from the Florida game and allow them to hang around. I don’t see them beating us or anything, but we can certainly make this game harder than it needs to be.
Most Likely: Like most of these games, I think we start slow, but our depth and power is way too much. Go into half with a 10 point lead, win by 20+
Sept 26: South Carolina
Home (Lexington, KY)
For about half a decade, it seemed that the South Carolina was a ‘gimme’ but after last season (and 2 injured QBs), they were able to grab a win at their place.
I feel confident that we are better than USC, but they do have a solid option at QB with Hilinski and a cornerback that will take advantage of bad passes in Israel Mukuamu.
Best Case: We control the tempo, let our backs do the work and control their passing game. We have the talent and skill to win this game pretty easily and sending a message to the rest of the SEC East
Worst Case: I still see South Carolina being a very winnable game, just may be a little more strain your heart. If we get too sloppy, they can make us pay. I hope by this point in the season we have found a good balance
Most likely: Like most South Carolina games of late, I see us getting off to a hot start (in all black uniforms no doubt) and getting a 10-14 point lead, before we hand the ball off 30 times in the 2nd half and allow them to focus on one thing, stopping said run, therefore making the game much closer than it needs to be… don’t fear though, defense will come up with a big play
Oct 3: Auburn
Road (Auburn, AL)
War Eagle! The cycle has came around where we play Auburn again. The last few games have been interesting, we beat them in 09, lost close to Cam Newton in 2010, the last match up was on our first ever Thursday night game. This year, we travel to them and face, in my opinion, the best team in the SEC and one of my favorites to win the National Title.
I think Bo Nix will be a great player this year and light the SEC up. I’ve voiced this option before and UK fans like to get on me, but we can’t win them all and no shame in losing to a team like this, on the road especially.
Best Case: Our offense clicks… I think we lose this game in most cases and I think Bo Nix will put up good numbers, but if our offense can match pace and score, that would make more excited for this team. I think losing 37-34 would be more beneficial than losing 10-7.
Worst: A dud… Going on the road, potientally on national tv, and getting waxed by 40 would certainly hurt.
Most likely: Think Texas A&M from a few years ago. Big plays and big mistakes, losing a sloppy game that leaves fans walking away like we let one slip away from us
Oct 10: Eastern Illinois
Home (Lexington, KY)
Eastern Illinois is an FCS school. They won one game last year. I would certainly imagine this would a team we could easily handle.
Best Case: We put 80. We get our starters some light work, get our back ups and even see what our freshman can do. Prediction: Beau Allen throws his first TD this game
Worst Case: I leave injuries or tragedy out of these “worst case” bc obviously that is ALWAYS worst case. But honestly, I don’t see a work case during this game, just making it through and everyone healthy
Most Realistic: We win by 40+, even if Wilson isn’t all we anticipate, EIU has no way off stopping our line or our backs
Oct 17: Vanderbilt
Home (Lexington, KY)
I don’t expect Vandy to be very good this season. They don’t have a real option at QB and even with the few offensive weapons they have, the defense has a lot of holes
Best Case: We take care of business, a team like Vandy comes into Kroger Field, you should be able to win easily. If we play to our potential, it’s over by half!
Worst Case: Even playing sloppy I can see us still winning, it would just be frustrating. While they don’t have the offense to consistently score on us, blow coverage in the secondary or silly turnovers leading to defensive touchdowns will make this game a lot longer. Side note: Would stink for Danny Clark to come in and ball out for them though.
Reality: I think he take care of business. May not be fully 60 min and we may not get the shutout, but I think the team wins this one easily.
Away (Columbia, MO)
Last time we played them at their place, it took a few lucky breaks… I don’t expect the same this year. High powered offense but with no experience at quarterback, I’m not too concerned. Even with the recent streak vs Mizzou, I would consider this a down year for the Tigers.
Best Case: Another step forward for our offense. The team continues to improve, Terry Wilson continues his development and we should come away with a huge win
Worst Case: Sloppy play and turnovers lead to an early hole, turns us one dimensional and we aren’t able to pull out a win. I will say, I feel if were to lose a “gimme” game, it would be this one.
Most Likely: I do feel like we are much better than them. I think we get an early lead, but it also feels like the kind of the game where Stoops calls the dogs off by half, allowing them to hang around and perhaps make it interesting.
Road (Knoxville, TN)
This is the one. The one most fans have circled. We are better than Tennessee, we should consistently beat Tennessee, but we haven’t. Our best season, we went down to Knoxville and laid an egg. So, this is the one that makes me nervous.
Best Case: We dominate! We show Ole Orange what BBN is about. I would love to see us go down there and flex our muscle and come away with a huge win
Worst Case: We already know. We go down there and suddenly forget to play football. We make struggling players look like 5 stars. We can’t take another year of that
Most Likely: I’ll admit, this is said with hopefulness, but I believe it’s time. Go to Knoxville and get the win. I think game will go a lot like last years, but we are able to punch it in for the touchdown
11/14: Mississippi St.
Home (Lexington, KY)
Mississippi St. is building back up. They had a down few years, but returning some key offensive weapons. This is one of those games I am a bit more nervous about, we can win, we should win, but this late in the season, you never know what you’ll get.
Best Case: We get a foot of snow and we handle our business. We hand the ball off to Rose, Smoke and Rodriguez and control the game and the clock, like Benny did in 2018.
Worst Case: We lose our focus and let the late season bug bite us. We fail to tackle and act tired and Hill runs all over us.
Most Likely: A typically “Kentucky” game. By now, you may realize a trend, Kentucky football has a distinct style. Majority of their games have moments of brilliance and moments of frustrations, most of our losses could have easily been wins and a lot of our wins could have been loses. This game will be no different, but Kentucky by a FG.
Home (Athens, GA)
Ahhh Georgia. The preverbal next level, the team we’ve yet to beat. However, now is the time, they are replacing a lot of keys pieces and this could be their “down year”. However, that doesn’t mean they are a push over, but i am saying there is a chance.
Best Case: A win… Any win at all. By 1 or by 50. If we want to be taken seriously, we have to beat Georgia. Right now, talent wise, I would say we are on the level of Florida (which is nice), but we have show we can beat Georgia. This year, this is our opportunity.
Worst Case: That UGA doesn’t “rebuild, they reload”. That Jaime Newman (QB transfer from WF) is the real deal and White is the next great RB for them. I already think Pickens is one of the best wideouts in the country, so he’s gonna be tough to contain, add in a physical defense, this game can get out of hand.
Most Likely: We keep it close. We play solid for 55 minutes of the game, but on the last drive, we have a break down and a player (Pickens would be my guess) will be running wide open down the field for the win.
Road (Louisville, KY)
Our rival, the hated Cardinals. The last two years have been magical, actually 3 of the last 4 have. Anyways, we are clearly the superior team and they do everything in the power to take that from us! But we are big bro! We are what they are aiming for and even though I think they’ll be much improved (in part to a weak ACC), I don’t think they are ready for us.
Best Case: Three straight… In dominate fashion, by 60, 70, 80 points. MAKE THEM QUIT! Over the last few seasons, we have seen them shut down in the second half, that’s something I could get used to. Guys you’ve never even heard of scoring touchdowns!
Worst Case: While I don’t think they are better than us, I do think they are much improved. Ole Scott has em going in the right direction, Atwell is an explosive receiver and (one of their many) quarterback will likely be able put the ball in the air. So I don’t necessarily think they can beat us, but, if the weather favors them, I think they can keep it respectable enough where they feel they belong.
Most Likely: Like last year. They stay competitive and get a few big plays early, but I think our depth and size beats them down and by the 4th, we score 3 or 4 straight to put it away once again.
Best Case: 11-1. This seems like one of our best chances to make Atlanta. I think we go down to Atlanta for a rematch vs Auburn, lose again, but put our stamp on the season and get finish off with a Sugar Bowl win vs a team that had playoffs hope and now they’re dashed (Oklahoma or Texas), finishing with an amazing 12-2 record
Worst Case: 6-6. We don’t live up to our hype and we only win enough games to get to the Liberty Bowl and find away to beat Middle Tenn St.
Most Likely: 9-3. I think this team is really special and get some big wins. While this wouldn’t get us to Atlanta, it would be the next step in the journey (and a great ending to Wilson’s career). Depending on the Bowl game, we could either play an elite level team or an overachieving “mid major” team. Either way, I think we as a fan base would enjoy 10-3 or 9-4
Projected Starting Line Up:
QB: Terry Wilson
RB: Kavoseiy Smoke
WR: Clevan Thomas
WR: Josh Ali
WR: Allen Daily Jr
TE: Justin Rigg
T: Landon Young
G: Kennth Horsey
C: Drake Jackson
G: Luke Fortner
T: Darian Kinnard
DE: Josh Pascal
DT: Phil Hoskins
DT: Quintin Bohanna
OLB: Jordan Wright
OLB: Jamar Watson
ILB: Chris Oats
ILB: DeAndre Square
CB: Brandin Echols
CB: Kelvin Joseph
FS: Yusuf Corker
SS: Davonte Robinson
K: Chance Poore
P: Max Duffy
KR: Zach Johnson
PR: Josh Ali
Passing: Terry Wilson (3,198 yds; 24 TD)
Rushing: Kavosiey Smoke (1,245 yds; 12 TD)
Receiving: Keaton Upshaw (46 rec, 715 yards, 8 TD)
Tackles: DeAndre Square (82 tackles)
Sack: Jamar Watson (11 sacks)
Interceptions: Kelvin Joseph (4 Int)
Offensive MVP: Terry Wilson
Defensive MVP: Jamar Watson
Newcomer Watch: Izayah Cummings (WR)
Not sure how many snaps he will get this season, but keep an eye out for him in some “back up” time: 6’3 kid can fly and attack the ball!
⁃ Landon Young
⁃ Drake Jackson
⁃ Quinton Bohanna
⁃ Jamar Watson
⁃ Max Duffy