Just eight days ago, the Kentucky Wildcats 2020 season appeared on its way to being memorable. Now it looks like they may be on their way to a 3-7 that fans will want to forget.
After starting the season 0-2 and grinding out a win over Mississippi, State UK went down to Neyland Stadium and handed the then 17th ranked Tennessee Volunteers a 34-7 beatdown breaking their 36-game losing streak at Neyland Stadium.
This past Saturday, much of the Big Blue Nation expected a repeat performance as UK traveled to Missouri to take on a Tigers team that they hadn’t lost to since 2014 and are in the first year under newly hired head coach Eli Drinkwitz.
Instead, UK fans looked on in disgust as their Wildcats were out-gained by 285 yards and lost 20-10 to the Tigers.
Not only was Kentucky out-gained by nearly 300 yards, but Missouri also held possession for 43:10 compared to Kentucky’s 16:50 with the ball, won the turnover battle (1-0), and picked up 10 third down (10/20), and four fourth-down conversions (4/5) against the UK defense.
For Kentucky, the game saw offensive woes as Mark Stoops pulled starting quarterback Terry Wilson after the first quarter for Auburn transfer Joey Gatewood, went back to Wilson in the second half and then switched back late in the fourth quarter. Combined, the two quarterbacks completed just 5-14 of their passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Of those four passes, just one wide receiver had any receptions as Josh Ali made three catches for 44 yards and a score but had a costly fumble late in the fourth quarter to seal the win for Missouri while the other UK completion went to running back A.J. Rose for just three-yards.
With an ugly loss, an offense that looks lost and a defense that may have been exposed as having major problems getting off the field on third and fourth down Saturday, Kentucky is now starting a potential 3-7 season in the face when some projected them to finish 7-3 team preseason.
While Kentucky has the talent to turn things around, their final five opponents may not let them.
Kentucky’s final five games of the 2020 season’s are:
- vs. No. 5 Georgia (Oct. 31)
- vs. Vanderbilt (Nov. 14)
- at No. 2 Alabama (Nov. 21)
- at No. 10 Florida (Nov. 28)
- vs. South Carolina (Dec. 5)
Next week’s matchup with Georgia presents all sorts of problems for Kentucky and their struggling offense. The Bulldogs defense ranks second in the SEC and 20th in the nation in total defense.
Georgia also happens to be the only SEC East opponent Mark Stoops has yet to defeat in his tenure as UK head coach as the Bulldogs currently hold a 10-game winning streak over the Cats.
Vanderbilt still looks like a team Kentucky should beat. UK will have home field advantage over their long-time rival who is off to an 0-3 start to the season that, outside of a strong effort against Texas A&M, haven’t been close as they lost to both LSU and South Carolina 41-7 at home before their season was put on pause due to a COVID-19 outbreak.
Kentucky has defeated the Commodores in each of their last four meetings and have a far superior roster on paper in 2020. Despite the Wildcats woes, they should be able to get the job done coming off a bye when they take on the Dores’.
After taking on Vanderbilt, the Wildcats will face their most challenging task of the season when they travel to Tuscaloosa to take on the No. 2 Alabama Crimson Tide. Alabama’s offense has been unstoppable this season with former UK commit Mac Jones looking like the Heisman Trophy favorite while their defense has turned a corner since allowing 48 points to Ole Miss making this matchup near impossible for Kentucky to win.
The following week, Kentucky will again hit the road to take on a top 10 team as they’ll head to the Swamp to take on the Florida Gators. Despite dropping their Week 3 game to Texas A&M, Florida’s offense has looked among the best in the nation as they’ve scored at least 38 points in each of their first three games, which does not bode well for a UK team that struggles to put up points.
Finally, Kentucky will battle South Carolina at Kroger Field in a game that could go either way. Like UK, South Carolina is 2-3 so far this season but did defeat an Auburn team that beat the Wildcats by 16. The Gamecocks also hung around with Florida losing by just two touchdowns and came within four points of a Week 1 victory over Tennessee. Last season, South Carolina snapped their five-game losing streak to UK and will come to Lexington confident, making this a toss-up game.
If Kentucky cannot defeat South Carolina, beats Vanderbilt as expected and take likely losses to top ten opponents in Georgia, Alabama and Florida, the Wildcats will finish the 2020 season 3-7.
This would mark the program’s first losing season since 2015 (5-7) and again make a fan base question whether or not the Wildcats will ever turn the program into one that can win an SEC East division title.