Fresh off the best season in 41 years Mark Stoops and the Cats look to keep the momentum going in 2019. One thing that could help them is their schedule. The Wildcats play eight of their twelve games at Kroger Field. While they do have to navigate the treacherous SEC their four non-conference games are all at home. So from the least difficult to most let’s begin ranking Kentucky’s 2019 opponents.
Ranking Kentucky’s 2019 Opponents
For the sake of argument, we ranked the teams into three categories. They are as follows; games Kentucky should win, games that are toss-ups and game they are doubtful to win.
Games Kentucky Should Win
12- Tennessee-Martin- The Skyhawks visit Lexington in the season’s next to last week. Furthermore they should be just the break the Cats need following eight straight games against the SEC. Jason Simpson’s squad finished 2-9 in 2018 and this is a contest where Stoops should be able to empty his bench.
11- Eastern Michigan- Originally this contest was to be played in Ypsilanti. However Kentucky bought the road contest out for 800,000 dollars. The Eagles finished 7-6 in 2018 losing to Georgia Southern in the Camellia Bowl. Chris Creighton’s club should give the Cats a battle for a while before Kentucky pulls away.
A Blowout Battle For the Governor’s Cup?
10- Louisville- It seems weird to put your rivalry game down this low, however new coach Scott Satterfield inherits a mess. In 2018 the Cards finished 2-10 and coach Bobby Petrino was fired with two weeks left in the year. On paper the final game of the year seems like a mismatch however the Cats have not beaten Louisville at home since 2009.
9. Arkansas- The Razorbacks went 2-10 in their first season under Chad Morris. The Hogs will get better eventually but this looks like the Wildcats’ easiest SEC win, especially playing at home. This is the first match up between the schools since 2012.
A Very Tricky Opener
8. Toledo- Kentucky’s first game of 2019 has the makings of being a very interesting contest. Not only are the Rockets the favorites to win the Mid-American Conference’s western division but they have played in eight straight bowl games. In addition it made the Last Word On College Football’s list of Top 50 Non-Conference games. Toledo scored 50 point six times last season and could give Kentucky’s brand new secondary fits.
7. At Vanderbilt- The Cats wrap up eight straight conference games with a battle against the Commodores. Kentucky has won three in a row against Vandy after losing four of the previous five. Many True Blue Fans make the trip down Interstate 65 turning this into a home game.
That wraps up the first six games in our ranking Kentucky’s 2019 opponents. Should the Cats indeed win all of these then they are bowl eligible for a fourth straight year. The next set of game are ones that could go either way. Each win improves Kentucky’s bowl chances.
Games That Are Toss-Ups
6. Tennessee- Last year the Cats played their worst game of the season in a 24-7 loss in Knoxville. The Vols finished 5-7 in Jeremy Pruitt’s first season at Tennessee and is looking for improvement in season two. Kentucky has only won twice against the Vols since 1984. However a win in Lexington would make it two of the last three and maybe the beginnings of a true rivalry.
5- Missouri- Even though they are ineligible for a bowl in 2019 the Tigers are a trendy pick to be much improved. The reason is simple, the addition of Kelly Bryant at quarterback. The former Clemson signal caller replaces Drew Lock under center and big things are expected. In addition to being at home another fact that could help the Cats is they catch Missouri in the middle of a brutal three game road stretch.
4- At South Carolina- In 2019 Kentucky looks to do something it has never done in SEC play, beat a team six years in a row. The Cats have owned the Gamecocks in recent memory but Will Muschamp‘s club looks to break that streak. In addition this is the second of back to back road games with the first contest ranking number three.
3- At Mississippi State- Starkville is one of the toughest places to play in college football. In fact Kentucky hasn’t won there since 2008 with many of the losses by lopsided margins. The Wildcats dominated last year’s contest and Joe Moorhead’s Bulldogs are looking for some revenge.
A New “Streak?”
2- Florida- Last season Kentucky broke a 31 game losing streak by winning in “The Swamp.” You have to go back to 1976 and 1977 for the last time Kentucky beat Florida in consecutive years. However a win against a Gator team picked by many to challenge Georgia for the SEC East will be difficult even at home.
Game That Is Doubtful To Win
That 11 games down and one to go as we are ranking Kentucky’s 2019 opponents. Only one contest left and this fits in the doubtful category.
1- At Georgia- The last time the Wildcats beat the Bulldogs was 2009. Only three times in the nine losses has the margin been single digits. Not only is Kirby Smart‘s squad the heavy favorite to win the SEC East again but it is a national title contender as well. Factoring in all of this and playing in Athens this is the only game on the schedule which looks like a certain loss.
Overall the experts rank Kentucky’s schedule as one of the easiest in the SEC. However having to replace many key players an easier slate can do nothing but help the Wildcats. Thanks for checking out our Ranking Kentucky’s 2019 Opponents here at Last Word On College Football. Which game is ranked too high or too low? Leave a comment here or on Twitter.
Next time out we hit the Elite 8 in our battle to determine the best win in school history. In addition we will preview the team as we get ready for the opener on August 31st against Toledo.