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Daniels: SEC Team Projection – Kentucky

Kentucky Wildcats Photo courtesy of fineartamerica.com
Kentucky Wildcats
Photo courtesy of fineartamerica.com

Kentucky has come up short for a while in the SEC where football is concerned.

This year the outlook has improved with Mark Stoops entering his third year at Kentucky with junior Patrick Towles taking the snaps. Stanley “Boom” Williams is returning as well and will get most of the carries fout of the backfield or the Wildcats.

On the downside, there will be no Bud Dupree at defensive end, as he has moved on to play professionally. Kentucky has not made it into the post-season since 2010 with a couple of 5-7 seasons in those years. The Wildcats will be a surprise team this year in the conference, but it will take one or two big wins to get them into post-season play. I see this being a big year for Stoops and company. Here’s my prediction:

September 5 vs. Louisiana Lafayette, W 31-20: The Wildcats will open up the season against a tough Louisiana Lafayette team led by Mark Hudspeth. Kentucky will need this one to get an extra win in hopes of a bowl game.

September 12 @ South Carolina, L 35-38: Kentucky had a huge win last season in this ball game at Commonwealth Stadium as it was a first SEC win for Stoops at Kentucky. The tables will turn slightly in this one. We will still see a lot of points, but the Gamecocks will have the edge.

September 19 vs. Florida, W 31-30: Be worried Florida fans. Kentucky has not forgotten about last season’s game. Having a very controversial ending to this game last season, Kentucky fans agree that the Wildcats should have won this meeting last year. That reason is simply why I’m giving them the edge along with the read option of Patrick Towles and “Boom” Williams.

September 26 vs. Missouri, L 16-21: Missouri’s defense will step up in this one, and I expect them to slow down the Wildcats’ offense. We will see how well Kentucky slows down Maty Mauk, who posted both touchdowns for the Tigers last season.

October 3 vs. Eastern Kentucky, W 41-10: This will be the perfect game to get some guys playing time and rest Towles up for the Auburn game that follows a bye week. It will simply be an extra win for the Wildcats over the Colonels.

October 15 vs. Auburn, L 23-31: A Thursday night game in Commonwealth Stadium will be a thriller. Some experts see this as a scare game for Auburn, but I do not see Kentucky quite there in their journey yet.

October 24 @ Mississippi State, L 31-38: Last season, these two teams met while the Bulldogs were ranked number one in the country, and the win came down to the fourth quarter. With the absence of Josh Robinson at State, Kentucky will come a little closer, but not close enough to grab the win.

October 31 vs. Tennessee, L 21-28: Kentucky is definitely not getting as much hype as the Volunteers are getting this offseason, but Kentucky will keep it close after a Tennessee blowout last season.

November 7 @ Georgia, L 20-34: This is a very tough matchup for Kentucky because of running back Nick Chubb. Kentucky struggled with teams last year that ran the football the majority of the time. Kentucky will try to make the adjustments for Chubb, but I am still going to give it to the Bulldogs. The Wildcats will have to win their final three games to become bowl eligible.

November 14 @ Vanderbilt, W 37-14: This was a tight, defensive football game last season, but I think that will change this year. Kentucky will get a much easier win, and I think their offense will continue to develop as the season goes.

November 21 vs. Charlotte, W 45-10: “Just go out and simply play your game” will be the message from Mark Stoops. Kentucky should grab another win against a new addition to the FBS in Charlotte.

November 28 vs. Louisville, W 42-37: Kentucky will be entering this one with their bowl hopes all coming down to this game. Kentucky was very close to getting the win last season in this football game. I love Kentucky in this game. It’s a home game for the Wildcats; fans should come out in droves. I believe Kentucky will win it and get back into a bowl game – the first time under Mark Stoops.

2015 Projection: Kentucky: 6-6, 2-6 SEC; 5th SEC East

Grant DanielsGrant Daniels, a student at Oxford High School, is sports correspondent for HottyToddy.com. Email him at hottytoddynews@gmail.com

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