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2017

Kentucky Wildcats

College Football

Betting Preview

This season has a bit of a different vibe for Kentucky, mainly because some expect the Wildcats to challenge for the SEC East title. They weren’t far behind a year ago (finished 7-6 overall) and outside of some bad early losses at Florida and Alabama, stayed competitive in every game. With a decent amount of starters returning, 17 in all including at quarterback, Kentucky has more than just a bowl game on its radar.

Quarterback is still up for debate, but at the least, last year’s leader in Stephen Johnson returns. While he struggled in the spring and Gunnar Hoak shined, Drew Barker still has a chance to return from his back injury and compete for the job. Either way, even without their top rusher and receiver from a year ago, the UK offense should be just as good behind four returning offensive linemen. Benny Snell (1,091 yards, 13 TDs) will lead the backfield with Sihiem King expected to take Boom Williams’ role. And even without WR Jeff Badet, Garrett Johnson (585 yards, 5 TDs) and Dorian Baker are able and experienced. Scoring 30 points per game last year, this offense was the reason the Wildcats were so competitive and that all culminated in a 41-38 win at Louisville.

Of course, the defense is another question, but this group has the tools to improve on last year’s 31.2 points and 225 rushing yards allowed per game. With nine starters returning, both of those numbers should be better, especially with linebacker loaded, led by Jordan Jones and Courtney Love. Denzil Ware returns as the team’s best pass rusher, while Darius West returns at safety from a knee injury with Mike Edwards. The pieces are there for the Wildcats and it only gets better with a somewhat favorable schedule.

Southern Miss will be far from an easy non-conference game and this team knows that, losing 44-35 at home to the Golden Eagles last season. A win there would by huge before SEC play gets underway. Getting Florida and Tennessee at home will give the Wildcats as good of chance as any to upset the better teams in the East. Even more helpful, Kentucky draws both Mississippi schools, and both are expected to finish near the bottom of the West standings.

If all goes well, this team could be looking at a minimum of eight wins, but that may be too hopeful for a team not known for football. But Mark Stoops has steadily improved this team since failing to win an SEC game back in 2013. While their odds are equal to South Carolina to win the conference (+8000 at 5Dimes Sportsbook) and place fourth in the East, with so many returning starters, the Wildcats aren’t a bad team to back as a long shot to steal the division.

2017 Kentucky Wildcats Football Schedule

Sept. 2 at Southern Miss
Sept. 9 vs. Eastern Kentucky
Sept. 16 at South Carolina
Sept. 23 vs. Florida

Sept. 30 vs. Eastern Michigan
Oct. 7 vs. Missouri
Oct. 21 at Mississippi State
Oct. 28 vs. Tennessee
Nov. 4 vs. Ole Miss
Nov. 11 at Vanderbilt
Nov. 18 at Georgia
Nov. 25 vs. Louisville

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