During the 2021 season, Kentucky football put together an historical start to the year as the Wildcats raced off to a 6-0 start to set up a division title clash with Georgia at Sanford Stadium in October. That game was made even more significant when Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit and the crew rolled into Athens as College GameDay was on site.
Kentucky ended up losing that game to the eventual national champions by 17 points, but playing on that stage did far more good than bad for the program as CBS also brought their team to the contest for the premium game in the SEC that week. I
The favor could be returned in 2022 as this SEC East series moves to Kroger Field.
The College GameDay crew has not been to Lexington since making the trip in 2007 for a matchup with eventual Heisman Trophy winner Tim Tebow and Florida. On Nov. 19, Kentucky football could be at the center of the college football universe.
Reset week in the SEC
Kentucky has been an active participant in this week in the past as the league members get their schedules built in a way where teams can have a built-in win the week before rivalry week occurs. This scheduling practice has helped out the Wildcats as the program used tune-up games in 2019 and 2021 to help lead to beatdowns against archrival Louisville.
However, the league requires for teams to rotate in occasional conference games on this week to help balance things out. Kentucky is up for the first time since 2017, and the Wildcats will face Georgia in the penultimate week in 2022. When looking around the SEC there are some other intriguing matchups — Ole Miss at Arkansas, Tennessee at South Carolina — but if the Kentucky-Georgia game is for the division it will be the clear top game in the conference and should get the CBS broadcast.
If you are hosting the best game in the SEC, your odds are automatically increased to be the host of College GameDay. Kentucky had a similar moment in 2018, but Alabama–LSU was on the same day for the SEC West title. That would not be on the table in 2022.
Due to all of the marquee matchups on Thanksgiving weekend, the college football world is accustomed to a lighter slate on the third Saturday in November. The 2022 campaign is no different, but there are some real intriguing matchups.
Let’s take a look at some other games that could catch attention from the folks at ESPN.
— Oklahoma State at Oklahoma: In what could be the last Bedlam meeting before Oklahoma moves to the SEC, stakes will be high as Brent Venables might coach his first and only game in this rivalry. Having College GameDay here would be obvious, but this could be the easy Big Noon Saturday pick for FOX, and that could take away some luster for ESPN. However, if both teams are in Big 12 title contention, this game could be tough to beat out.
— USC at UCLA: We will get Lincoln Riley’s first appearance in this rivalry in 2022, and the road trip to the Rose Bowl to face Chip Kelly and the Bruins figures to be one of the toughest games on USC’s schedule. A potential trap spot could be in play as this game occurs one week before the Trojans host Notre Dame. If both teams are in Pac-12 South contention, this west coast game has some real value.
— Utah at Oregon: Riley is attempting to bring back USC to prominence, and the Trojans will have to catch these two programs. Oregon and Utah own the last three Pac-12 titles with Oregon stealing a playoff bid from Utah in 2019 and the Utes returning the favor to the Ducks in 2021. There will be value if a conference title is on the line.
— Iowa at Minnesota: The battle for the Floyd of Rosedale could have big stakes this season as the Big Ten West is wide open, and both Kirk Ferentz and P.J. Fleck have teams that are contenders in the preseason. If a title is on the line, this game could be a very interesting matchup.
— Miami at Clemson: In Mario Cristobal’s first season, Miami draws Clemson from the other division and must make a late November trip to Death Valley. It wouldn’t be crazy if this is a preview of the ACC title game.
Play for a championship, host GameDay
There is buzz surrounding the upcoming Kentucky season as redshirt senior quarterback Will Levis and his potential is allowing folks to dream some big dreams in the offseason. Meanwhile, Kentucky has played Georgia in a de facto SEC East title game twice in the last four seasons. It’s not crazy to think it could happen again.
If Kentucky takes care of business things could get special. The November matchup against Georgia could be for a trip to Atlanta again in 2022. Don’t be surprised if tailgate plans need to be altered so folks can attend a College GameDay broadcast on a cold fall day in November just before Thanksgiving festivities begin.