Dec 2, 2012; Lexington , KY, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops spoke to reporters at press conference, introducing him as the new football coach at the Nutter Field House. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Kentucky Wildcats Football: My 2013 Season Prediction

Jul 17, 2013; Hoover, AL, USA; Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops talks with the media during the 2013 SEC football media days at the Hyatt Regency. Mandatory Credit: Marvin Gentry-USA TODAY Sports

The 2013 season kicks off on Saturday and the Kentucky football team will start their most excitedly anticipated season in recent memory. A new year rings new possibilities, so here is my 2013 season prediction…

Vs Western
All the hoopla aside, Western Kentucky beat the Wildcats at Commonwealth stadium last year and played well enough to have their coach poached by a BCS school. The Hilltoppers shouldn’t be underestimated, but the talent gap on the offensive and defensive lines is pretty extreme. WKU is likely to struggle as they transition from Taggart’s run oriented offense to Petrino’s pass-happy scheme and the pieces just don’t fit as well on their side. This game will be closer than expected, but mostly because Petrino will keep gunning late in the game and score 10-14 in the fourth against Kentucky’s reserves.

Final Score: UK 34 – WKU 21
Vs Miami (OH)
The mighty Redhawks of Miami will look to shock some folks by taking down Kentucky at home, but the talent gap between the two teams is pretty wide. Kentucky’s air raid offense will put up points, but tiring out the defensive starters for UM will be what sets the time. Miami doesn’t have the depth to be run to death by Kentucky and Dy’Shawn Mobley and Jonathan George can pound away the exhausted defense in the fourth quarter.
Final Score: UK 41 – UM 17
Vs Louisville
As much as I would love to call for a blowout UK win here, it’s just not likely this season. While the Louisville defense does not even remotely scare me against UK’s offense, the situation isn’t as promising when the teams flip sides. Kentucky’s defensive line should make Teddy Bridgewater’s life miserable against a suspect offensive line, but Louisville has some talented receivers and Kentucky’s defensive backs are young and unproven. The Wildcats will give the Cardinals hell with a rocking Commonwealth stadium behind them,  but the defensive backfield just gives up too many plays to win a closer than expected contest.
Final score: UK 24 – UL 28
Vs Florida
Kentucky will head into their game with Florida with a 2-1 record and should have a pretty good outing against the Gators. After keeping the contest close due to a couple of blown coverages by a young Florida secondary and an ill-timed interception thrown by Driskel, the Wildcats will shoot themselves in the foot by being over aggressive and give Florida two easy scores. A late surge comes up short and Kentucky extends the nation’s longest losing streak.
Final score: UK 28 – UF 35
@ South Carolina
The most obnoxious fanbase in the conference will host Kentucky and should be a decided favorite. The young Cats will likely struggle with hostile environment as they play in their first true road game of the season. I think Kentucky’s Darrian Miller will do a shockingly good job against Clowney, but the Gamecocks just have too much firepower on offense and their line should be good enough to slow down Kentucky’s defensive linemen.
Final score: UK 24 – SC 42
Vs Alabama
The good news is that Kentucky gets the Crimson Tide at home. The bad news is that Kentucky will be playing Alabama. As much as I would love to call for a goalposts removing victory, the Tide are one of the most stacked teams in the history of college football. Now, in the event that they overlook the Wildcats, there’s an outside chance Kentucky pulls of the victory…but it’s pretty slim. The favorite to repeat as national champions should handle the young UK team fairly easily but are unlikely to win big due to Nick Saban calling off the dogs.
Final score: UK 10 – UA 35
@ Mississippi State
Kentucky seems to play Mississippi State tough some years, and not so tough in others. While the Bulldogs are certainly no juggernaut, they should be good this season. A series of turnovers by both teams could make this game tough to watch at times, but Mississippi State eventually pulls off a win at home in an ugly game.
Final score: UK 17 – MS 20
Vs Alabama State
Five consecutive losses will likely have taken their toll on the team, but they’ll get a pick-me-up after the “murderer’s row” on the 2013 schedule. Alabama State is a FCS team (formerly Div. 1-AA) and should be no match for the Wildcats. Relying on the running game and stud back Isaiah Crowell will be impossible with the tempo Kentucky’s offense will set and the UK defensive line should man-handle the ASU front. A confidence booster is just what the doctor ordered for this point in the season.
Final score: UK 52 – ASU 21
Vs Missouri
After one of the most painfully horrible matchups in the history of football, Missouri and Kentucky will try again in Lexington this season. The Tigers may be rethinking their move to the SEC at this point and should be fighting with the Wildcats to stay out of the Eastern division’s cellar at this point. Coming off of a win and fighting for bowl eligibility fuels a Commonwealth stadium crowd to make life hell for the Tigers and Dorial Green-Beckham has little impact as UK’s Z. Smith and Dupree terrorize Missouri’s quarterback. A shockingly impressive offensive performance sets the Cats apart in the end in a game much closer than the final score.
Final score: UK 44 – Missouri 31
@ Vanderbilt
The team will return to Nashville for the second time this year but will find a much tougher opponent in Vanderbilt. Despite Coach James Franklin’s incessant bitching and complaining about everything that happens before, during, and after the game, his team should be relatively battle tested at this point in the season and could likely be fighting for bowl eligibility at this point in the season. Playing on the road is negated by the fact that there will be as many or more Kentucky fans at the game, but Vanderbilt’s roster is just too good for Kentucky to eek one out.
Final score: UK 27 – Vanderbilt 34 OT
@ Georgia
The Bulldogs seem to always find a way to shoot themselves in the foot near the end of the season…but it won’t be against Kentucky. With a plethora of offensive talent and a defense that attacks the Wildcats’ offense on every play, the talent gap is just too big for Kentucky to mount much of an upset. Turnovers plague UK as Georgia moves another game towards the SEC East crown (which I think they’ll get) and a rematch with Alabama.
Final score: UK 14 – UG 38
Vs Tennessee
The last time Tennessee was in Commonwealth Stadium two very bad teams met and they were defeated by a wide receiver playing quarterback for Kentucky. While its unlikely that UK starts a receiver behind center this year, neither team is likely to be contending for the SEC East crown.  Justin Worley has given no indication that he’s the next Peyton Manning, but the offense will have some talented, albeit young, players around him. The defense will try to rebound from a disastrous year last season and should be improved. Ultimately, this being a home game for Kentucky plays in the Wildcats’ favor in a tough game ruled by offensive firepower.
Final score: UK 36 – UT 34
At the conclusion of the 2013 season, I predict that Kentucky will finish with a record of 5-7 and just shy of a bowl game. Now, I am almost sure to be wrong on some of these, so fear not Kentucky fans. The truth of the matter is that we have no idea what to expect from the young Wildcats and anything between 9-3 to 1-11 is possible under the right circumstances. More than any year in the recent past though, staying healthy will be paramount to success for a very thin Kentucky depth chart.

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