It’s football time in the bluegrass! Kentucky football kicks off the 2022 season this Saturday looking to win the Southeast Eastern Conference and here are our game-by-game predictions to see IF it can happen.
Coach Mark Stoops has followed suit and backed up everything he’s said over the past nine seasons. As Stoops’ troops begin the 2022 campaign, many eyes are focused on the Wildcats to see if the membership has peaked, is ready to hold on to the top and hopefully not ready to back down.
We don’t think it will be the last, but as any sports fan knows, injuries and other circumstances can quickly derail the momentum of a speeding train. Would the loss of quarterback Will Levis quickly change direction or be remembered when Covid sidelined a ton of players just two years ago?
This is not gloom but reality.
However, the hype train is moving full speed ahead with Kentucky hoping to dethrone longtime SEC king East Georgia and make the SEC Championship game.
The pundits laugh, but lest they forget that finishing second in the SEC last year was all alone – Kentucky football.
SEC Network analyst Chris Doering is all about Kentucky this season.
Before Stoops arrived, Kentucky fans expected to go 5-6 and if the stars aligned, he might sneak in a bowling game. Commonwealth Stadium was almost half empty on Saturday and the discussion was about the start of basketball, not the football game.
Joker Phillips went 2-10 in 2012 only managing to beat Kent State and Samford. That year, UK ranked 119th out of 124 schools scoring just 215 season points while giving up 372 and Phillips was out the door after 3 seasons and a 13-24 record.
Enter Stoops and now entering his tenth season and just one win after tying Paul “Bear” Bryant for the most wins ever at Kentucky, he probably has his best British team to start the season.
Without further ado, here we are – is it doomsday, pie in the sky, or more importantly, reality for this Kentucky football team? Again, this is just a projection based on what we know today.
Miami (Ohio) RedHawks
Kentucky wild cats
Kentucky goes 1-0 with solid effort despite Chris Rodriguez not playing
Venue: Kroger field
Town: Lexington, Kentucky
Overall match record: Kentucky leads 8-4-1
Last meeting: Kentucky won 41-7 in 2013.
As expected, Chris Rodriguez begins his suspension following a DUI arrest earlier this year. Missing this game was no shock and Kentucky has a lot of depth to run to start this season. In fact, it will give us and the coaches a good insight into the strength of that depth.
Senior Kavoisey Smoke earned the top spot to start on Saturday and I envision him doing some long runs.
Kentucky quarterback Will Levis will be eager to step onto the Kroger field and pitch this season and he must be eager to start 2022. Besides the stable of running backs, we have to take a look eye to eye he also has a group of very talented receivers.
We haven’t seen much of the host corps in the last few years except for a Wandale Robinson. I would expect Levis to broadcast it short and long so that part of the game would go to Dane Key and Barion Brown and the other receivers. Tight ends are as talented as they come and they too will likely get double digit balls.
Miami coach Chuck Martin is an offensive mastermind who led Notre Dame as offensive coordinator in the 2012 BCS game against Alabama. Now, like Stoops, he is entering his 10th season as Red Hawks coach.
Martin, much like Stoops, took over a struggling team that was 0-12 the previous year and slowly went 4-18 in its first 22 conference games. But since then his teams have gone 30-12 in the MAC, won the 2019 MAC Championship and played in the LendingTree Bowl. Miami has now been eligible for bowling in five of the past six years and has won the Frisco Football Classic in 2021.
While Martin will test the British secondary, the Wildcat defense will be ready for the test, although they will miss Jordan Wright, who is also suspended for the game for an unnamed reason.
Which stars will shine for Kentucky is an unknown, but getting off to a good start and going 1-0 is key with a trip to the swamp and the Florida Gators looming in Week 2.