There aren't too many teams left in the SEC that haven't at least participated in the SEC Championship Game. Kentucky is one of them.
Kentucky hasn't won a SEC championship since 1976 under Fran Curci, and their only other conference title was in 1950, when Bear Bryant led them to a national championship.
Since then, Kentucky football has been, with a few exceptions, an exercise in futility. It's hard to see 2011 being much different, with only five offensive starters returning.
While the Wildcats do return their defense essentially intact (losing only one starter), you still need points to win games, and Kentucky will have a very hard time scoring points on SEC defenses this season with a young and inexperienced offense.
Sept. 1 vs. Western Kentucky (LP Field, Nashville, TN)
While Kentucky won't be winning any championships this season, they certainly aren't one of the worst teams in the FBS. Western Kentucky, on the other hand, is.
There's something to be said about all of the money to be made in the FBS, what with the TV contracts and bowl money available. But if you're so bad you never make a bowl game and no one ever wants to watch you on television, one must ask the question, “What was the point?”
The Wildcats will easily handle the Hilltoppers, and the season at least starts out on a high note for Kentucky.
Sept. 10 vs. Central Michigan
The Chippewas were one of the best teams the MAC has seen in quite some time, and they even had a bona fide Heisman candidate in Dan LeFevour. He was the only player to ever have 12,000 career passing yards combined with 2,500 rushing yards.
He was only the second player, after Vince Young, to ever throw for over 3,000 yards while rushing for more than 1,000 yards in a season. He did all of this under the guidance of a head coach named Brian Kelly.
Well, both LeFevour and Kelly are gone from Mt. Pleasant, and so too are the wins. A 2-0 start for Kentucky looks probable.
Sept. 17 vs. Louisville
This game is a bit harder to call that Kentucky's first two contests. Louisville is improving, and the Big East isn't exactly the MAC. Of course, it's not exactly the SEC, either.
While Kentucky does have an inexperienced offense, they should have some success under their belt by the third week in September, and they will be able to ride that to a hard-fought win over the Cardinals.
Oct. 22 vs. Jacksonville State (FCS)
At first glance, one would assume this game to be an easy win for Kentucky. Not so fast. Jacksonville State is a good FCS program from the Ohio Valley Conference, and last season, Mississippi found out the hard way that you ignore good FCS programs at your own peril.
While the Gamecocks were able to sneak a win past Ole Miss last season, don't expect it to happen again in 2011. JSU will have to deal with some talent drain due to graduation, and Kentucky will be more than prepared for this mid-season clash.
Wildcats won't fall prey to the Gamecocks the way Ole Miss did In the first week of last season.