The talking season officially gets ramped up in a week when SEC Media Days get started on Monday, July 19. That’s when the season expectations are set by the experts.
While guzzling Dr. Pepper in a fancy hotel meeting room in Metro Birmingham, hundreds of media members will vote on expected finishes for all 14 SEC teams to go along with all-conference selections. The results of these votes will set the table for the rest of the offseason until toe meets leather on the first Saturday in September.
When taking a deeper dive into Kentucky’s 2021 slate, two real things stand out. The week two matchup when Missouri rolls into Kroger Field and the three-game gauntlet in October when the Wildcats face Florida, LSU, and Georgia in consecutive weeks. However, the story of the season will be told once Halloween passes and football weather comes to town.
You’re always remembered for what is done in November.
To close the season, the Wildcats have a favorable slate. After a road trip to Davis-Wade Stadium to take on Mississippi State out of the bye, Kentucky returns home for a huge Saturday in Lexington. While in the comfortable confines of The Kroge, Mark Stoops and his bunch get the chance to host Tennessee on Hall of Fame weekend. There, Kentucky will look to win back-to-back games against the Vols for the first time since 1976-77. If you have not been paying attention, Josh Heupel could be in a world of hurt in year one on Rocky Top.
In the next two weeks, Kentucky will get a chance to reset a bit. The Wildcats make the bi-annual November trip to Vanderbilt to take on the Commodores the very next week. However, first-year head coach Clark Lea is also in for a very long rebuilding job on the West End. The ‘Dores are off a bye, but this is a game Kentucky will be a double-digit favorite in. The next week is senior day in Lexington with New Mexico State rolling into town for the second time since 2016. The Aggies could be really, really bad.
43-17 is a final score in Tarleton State’s first ever win as a D1 team over New Mexico State. Probably not the way the only FBS team to play in spring wanted to kick off their season. pic.twitter.com/mD0UCb6wDN
— RedditCFB (@RedditCFB) February 22, 2021
To close the season, Kentucky will hit I-64 and take on Louisville at Cardinal Stadium. It has not been a pleasant offseason for Scott Satterfield. If the UofL defense doesn’t make a big jump forward and the NFL skill talent isn’t replaced, this could be another long year in the ACC for the Cardinals.
As we sit right now, it is reasonable to expect Kentucky to be favored in every game in November and to run the table. That gives the program the chance to enter the postseason with plenty of momentum as the Wildcats look to close strong in the 2022 recruiting haul and head to a bowl game. Where will that be? The beginning of the year could tell us that.
Through the first eight games, anything is possible. Kentucky could enter the bye at 3-5 or could even be 6-2 if an upset is pulled. November will be a time where the Wildcats close the chapter on a historic season or finish the year strong to build momentum towards 2022. Either way, the final month has to tell the tale.
Football teams are always remembered for what is done in November.