Last time out we ranked Kentucky’s chances of winning on the road. Today we are going to go through the seven games at Kroger Field to see which ones Mark Stoops’ club has the best chances of winning. With no real rivalry games at home, the docket is an interesting mix of SEC and non-SEC squads. With that in mind, let’s begin Ranking Kentucky’s 2018 Home Games By Toughness.
Ranking Kentucky’s 2018 Home Games By Toughness
An In-State Battle
Number 7- Murray State- September 15th- Following a trip to “The Swamp,” the Cats face the FCS Racers. Murray State went 3-8 last season in the Ohio Valley Conference.
With three straight tough SEC games to follow, this is one of those games you hope no one gets hurt and you can play many of your backups. Far and away the easiest game on the schedule.
The Season Opener
Number 6- Central Michigan- September 1st- The Wildcats open the season against the Chippewas of the Mid-American Conference. Under coach John Bonemago Central Michigan went 8-5 last season losing to Wyoming 37-14 in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl.
CMU has beaten a Power Five school each of the last two seasons. However, they are 0-8 all-time versus the SEC. This should be a good way to break in both Gunnar Hoak and Terry Wilson at quarterback. Kentucky is 6-0 all time against the Chippewas and will make it seven after pulling away in the second half.
An SEC Rivalry Renewed
Number 5- Vanderbilt- October 20th- Following the Cats’ bye week they host Derek Mason’s Commodores . The school’s all-time leading rusher Ralph Webb is gone, however quarterback Kyle Shurmur returns for his senior season.
Kentucky has won three of the last four in the series, including a surprisingly easy 44-21 win in Nashville last season. This is a game the Cats must win in order to have a successful campaign.
Another Game Versus The State Of Tennessee
Number 4- Middle Tennessee- November 17th- Sandwiched between a game with Tennessee and the finale against Louisville is this contest. Despite a number of injuries on offense, the Blue Raiders finished 7-6 last season. They ended on a high note beating Arkansas State 35-30 in the Camellia Bowl.
Quarterback Brent Stockstill returns for his senior season. During his first season, he bested Jared Lorenzen’s record of pass completions by a freshman with 326. However, he has missed quite a few games the last couple of seasons due to injury.
Middle Tennessee’s Offensive Coordinator is a name very familiar to True Blue Fans. Tony Franklin who helped usher in the “Air Raid” offense at Kentucky two decades ago, is the man in charge of the offense.
Two years ago, another Conference USA team Southern Mississippi came into Lexington and won. Now the Blue Raiders will try to do the same. This has the makings of a classic “trap game” for the Cats. They can’t be caught looking ahead to the season finale against the Cardinals.
As we continue Ranking Kentucky’s 2018 Home Games By Toughness it is time for the final three. Each one is against a tough SEC opponent.
Trying To Reverse A Trend
Number 3- Mississippi State- September 22nd- The Bulldogs have a new coach on the sidelines in Joe Moorhead. The former Penn State offensive coordinator hopes to install his high powered offense in Starkville.
The fate of Mississippi State’s season rests largely on how quarterback Nick Fitzgerald recovers from a dislocated ankle. Behind Fitzgerald is running back Aeris Williams, who hopes to equal the kind of numbers Saquon Barkley put up last season for Moorhead.
Up front the Mississippi State defense is one of the best in the league. Ball control with Benny Snell will be the Cats best shot at victory. Kentucky went 1-8 against Dan Mullen while in Starkville with the only win coming two years ago.
The Bulldogs are Kentucky’s permanent SEC West opponent so beating them is a huge factor if the Cats are to move up in the league.
Looking To Make History
Number 2- South Carolina- September 29th- For all of the recent success of the Gamecocks, one thing they haven’t done is beat Kentucky. The Wildcats have won the last four in the series and look to tie a record in 2018.
Only once in history has Kentucky beat an SEC team five straight seasons. From 1976-1981 the Cats beat Vandy six straight times.
Much like the Mississippi State game here a fifth straight win against South Carolina signals great progress in the program.
The Toughest Test Of All
Number 1- Georgia- November 3rd- The top game on the list is pretty easy choice. Kirby Smart’s Bulldogs roll into Kroger Field as not only the SEC East favorite but a national contender as well.
Though not near as lengthy as the streak against Florida, the last time Kentucky beat Georgia was 2009. With the exception of the 2016 game, the Bulldogs won at the buzzer they have dominated the Cats. Minus that game each of the Georgia victories since Stoops took over has been by at least 20 points. Keeping the contest close in 2018 signals a step forward in the program.
Kentucky is looking for their first eight win regular season since 1984. In order to make than happen they need to win the games they are favored and win two of the three between Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina.
Thanks for checking out Ranking Kentucky’s 2018 Home Games By Toughness here at Last Word On College Football. As we get ready for the September 1st opener we will preview the team and make season predictions.