Kentucky football fans who love their warm Saturday football in September will be delighted with the 2023 schedule that features four home games that month and seven for the season. It sets up to allow the Wildcats a very strong shot at entering October undefeated but followed by a tweak of the traditional lineup.
The excitement and continued hopes for this season that is now a quarter complete and has the Wildcats undefeated in three games with wins over Miami of Ohio, Youngstown State, and a Southeastern Conference win at Florida could echo that in 2023.
Kentucky will open the 2023 season with three straight home games that start on September 2 with another MAC team Ball State coming to Lexington. The following Saturday it will be Eastern Kentucky making the short 20-minute ride over for the first time since 2009.
Week three and the trend of two MAC teams a season coming to the Bluegrass features Akron before that rounds out the early season of non-conference games except the season finale against Louisville.
This is where the SEC has done some shake-ups to the traditional scheduling Kentucky football fans are accustomed to seeing.
Vanderbilt will be the week 4 opponent instead of the usual late-season matchup and in years past game that the Wildcats counted on for bowl eligibility. Now that will come on September 23 in Nashville and most assuredly will mean a 4-0 start for the Cats who will follow with four more straight SEC East foes.
Kentucky will need all the early wins it can get with a heavily backloaded conference schedule that will certainly be very challenging.
September ends with Florida coming to Lexington and probably embarrassed that after 32 straight years of beating the Cats, Kentucky has claimed three of the past five games and realistically should have won two others.
The Cats hit the road to open October in Athens to face the team they are trying to catch to try and win the SEC East in Georgia. Kentucky has not been able to beat the Dawgs since 2009.
After those two brutal weeks, Kentucky will host Missouri on October 14 before a much-needed bye week on October 21. How they survive this stretch of SEC battles will undoubtedly set up how the season will finish. Being 6-1 would be fantastic at this point, but 5-2 again seems logical.
Bitter rival Tennesse makes its way to Lexington on October 23, and if Kentucky is 6-1 sets up the battle for what is becoming a common occurrence of who will be vying for the No. 2 spot in the East.
November begins in Starkville, Mississippi to face the Wildcats’ permanent cross-division rival Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Cats haven’t enjoyed much success here and haven’t won there since 2008 when they slipped out with a 14-13 win.
All eyes will be on Lexington on November 4 when Alabama travels to Lexington, which it doesn’t do very often. The Tide holds a 38-2-1 record all-time against Kentucky with the Wildcats’ two lone wins both coming in Lexington 40-34 in 1997 and 6-0 in 1922. The one tie was way back in 1929 finishing with a 7-7 score.
The next twist will be the weekend before Thanksgiving where Vanderbilt tends to be the opponent but this time it will be a trip to Columbia, SC to face the Gamecocks in the final SEC game and east opponent as well.
It will take a healthy Wildcat team to be ready for this one after that rough stretch of games.
The season concludes on November 25 with the annual rivalry game at Louisville.