What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Kentucky? Basketball.
The nation views Kentucky as the craziest basketball fans in the country. What the nation does not see is how crazed Kentucky is about football as well.
During the last two seasons the football stadium has been filled beyond capacity each and every game. At basketball games, though the attendance is incredibly high, it is not quite 100%.
So when you think Kentucky don't just think about a basketball school, they love their football team as well.
For the past couple years Kentucky fan's football expectations have been growing and growing. Now six wins and a bowl game is expected year in and year out. But when will Kentucky get beyond this expectation? When do they compete for an SEC East crown, or at least finish in the top half of the division?
As for competing for the SEC East crown, better luck next year. With Florida poised to make another title run they will win the SEC East.
But can Kentucky finish in the top three in the SEC East? With UGA and Tennessee down, and Vanderbilt no better than any other year, Kentucky has a legitimate chance to finish in the top three. Here are some of the key SEC matchups that will determine whether Kentucky is just 6-6 again or whether they are a seven or eight win team.
October 3 vs. Alabama
This is a key game for Kentucky because they will likely be coming into the game with an 0-1 record in SEC play (vs. Florida September 26). Expect this to be a low scoring game that will be determined by which team can run the ball the best.
With Kentucky losing star defensive end Jeremy Jarmon for the season the rest of the defensive line will be tested. With Bama being the first in between the trenches running game Kentucky will face, the key matchup will be Bama's run game vs. Kentucky's defensive line.
October 17 at Auburn
With Auburn being down this year it would be a huge win for the Cats. Getting a win on the road in the SEC is never easy. Coming into this game Kentucky could be 0-3 in SEC play (vs Florida, vs Alabama, at South Carolina), making it even more important.
The key to this game will be can Kentucky move the ball on Auburn's always ready defense. Mike Hartline (if he is still the starter) has to stretch out the safety's early, which will open up the run game. When Hartline cannot effectively throw the ball down field is when Kentucky is in the most trouble.
November 28 vs Tennessee
This is always the biggest game on Kentucky's schedule. Kentucky has failed to beat Tennessee 24 straight years. This game will likely decide whether Kentucky is 6-6 or 7-5. Once again this game will rely on quarterback play.
Last year Kentucky could not move the ball at all vs. Tennessee, and this was because Hartline was out and Randall Cobb was playing quarterback (and punt returning, and throwing balls to himself at wide reciever).
Assumed Wins: Miami (OH), Louisville, UL Monroe, EKU
Likely Wins: Mississippi State, at Vanderbilt
Maybe Wins: at Auburn
We Have a Chance but History is Against Us Wins: Tennessee
Long Shots: Alabama, at South Carolina, at UGA
Automatic Loss: Florida
Kentucky has the ability and the schedule to win seven or eight games, the question is will they step up or will they disappoint as usual.