Kentucky Wildcats Football: 2012 Game Previews and Predictions

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September 2nd: Kentucky Wildcats at (25) Louisville Cardinals

Louisville 2011 record- 7-6, 5-2 in the Big East, 1-0 against the top 25. Lost the Belk Bowl against North Carolina State.

Preview: Last season at this time the Cardinals were getting the same kind of preseason predictions that the Wildcats are getting currently. They were picked to finish near the bottom of the Big East and were only supposed to win a few games. The Cards came into Commonwealth Stadium as 11 point underdogs and with a 1-1 record after dropping a game to FIU. Louisville stunned the Wildcats and Big Blue Nation with a seven point victory.

How things have changed in a year. The Cardinals are now double digit favorites (14 points) and the game is at their place. Louisville returns quarterback Teddy Bridgewater along with most of the offensive line and the skill positions. The offense didn’t exactly light it up last season (ranked 98th) and Bridgewater threw 14 touchdowns to 12 interceptions, truly not Heisman material. The defense is returning a bulk of the unit that ranked 17th in the NCAA in points allowed. But Morgan Newton started in 2011, not Maxwell Smith. If one thing is for certain, this rivalry rarely goes as planned.

Prediction– First game jitters and offensive struggles keep this game low scoring and close. The ‘Cats hang tough but lose a nail-biter to Louisville 14-10. It would be nice to be wrong on this first pick. Football guru Phil Steele has the Wildcats pulling the 21-20 upset in PPJCS Phil Steele originally had UK winning by one and then said he made a mistake and picked Louisville by a touchdown.

September 8th: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Kent State Golden Flashes

Kent State 2011 record- 5-5, 4-4 in the MAC, 0-1 against the top 25

Preview: The Golden Flashes didn’t have the best of seasons but they missed on a potential bowl game by one loss. They were blown out by the two top tier teams that they faced early in the season (Alabama and Kansas State) and started off a putrid 1-6. They finished the season strong and were 5-6 heading into the final game against Temple. They were defeated by the Owls 34-16 and missed out on the post season.

This isn’t a team that Kentucky should worry about as Kent State ranked near the bottom of every statistic in the country. Their defense was serviceable but their offense was anemic. This should be an easy game for Kentucky.

Prediction- The Wildcats even the season and open Commonwealth with a W, and will defeat Kent State 35-13.

September 15th: Kentucky Wildcats vs. Western Kentucky Hilltoppers

Western Kentucky 2011 record- 7-5, 7-1 in the Sun Belt, 0-1 against the top 25

Preview: The first game of the season in 2011 took place in Nashville, Tennessee against these same Western Kentucky Hilltoppers. What was thought to be an easy win for the Wildcats turned into a preview of just how bad the offense was going to be as Kentucky struggled to beat WKU 14-3. I’m sure the Wildcats won’t forget the footage of  Hilltopper linebacker Andrew Jackson proclaiming that UK was not a real SEC team on the sidelines.

WKU started off 0-4 last season before reeling off five wins in a row. They won seven of their last eight games, but the only team they defeated worth mentioning was Florida International. Western Kentucky is missing a key player that led them to seven victories last season: Bobby Rainey. The stellar running back that rushed for 1,695 yards is currently on the Baltimore Ravens roster.

Prediction- With the loss of Rainey and the Wildcats on high alert, I doubt very seriously that WKU will pose much of a threat, despite the fact that a CBS polls has them ranked ahead of Kentucky this season. The Wildcats will be 2-1 by the end of this contest with a 27-14 win.