In the month of July the entire BBN feels like John Short. Under the right circumstance, you can convince yourself that Kentucky can beat every team on its schedule. Allow me to play devil's advocate.
Over the next six weeks we will envision scenarios where the Wildcats will win eight or more games. I'm sure at some point I'll book a hotel in Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game. Before the proverbial Kool-Aid is chugged, let's acknowledge at least one reason why every 2021 Kentucky football opponent could scare the Cats.
The Warhawks are not a good football team. They did not win a single game in 2020. Kentucky opened as a 28.5-point favorite and that number has already climbed to 30.5. The Wildcats should be able to name their score, HOWEVER...
Stoops will tell Liam Coen to keep it vanilla in the season-opener to save the good stuff for Missouri. If a door is left open, Rich Rodriguez has been known to score a few points in his days as a head coach. This uptempo offensive coordinator may still have a few tricks up his sleeve.
The first full Kroger Field crowd in two years will be rocking for a Saturday night kickoff under the lights. Even though the Wildcats have won five of the last six and there were extenuating off the field circumstances a year ago, Eli Drinkwitz is undefeated against Kentucky.
As much as it pains me to say this, Dorkwitz is a good football coach. He is the nerdiest nerd to ever nerd in the SEC, but the man knows how to schema up a gameplan. Even without Larry Rountree and a ton of departing talent on the defense, you can't count out Drinkwitz as an offensive play caller.
Remember that time Stephen Johnson planned on sitting out against an FCS opponent, then UK threw a pick six and fell behind by two touchdowns, forcing the hobbled QB into action? Yeah, that can't happen again.
The Gamecocks will be racing to the bottom of the SEC alongside Tennessee and Vanderbilt, but for one night, just one night, every Gamecock fan will convince themselves that tonight is the night that Shane Beamer proves he can get it done in Columbia. Aside from a date with Georgia the week prior, South Carolina actually has a light early season schedule. A signature win from Shane Beamer against Kentucky could give them enough momentum to become bowl eligible in October. He'll pull out all of his stunts to make it happen.
Here's the thing: Florida actually doesn't scare me. After seeing Dan Mullen unravel at the end of last season, I'm convinced the Gators are taking a SIGNIFICANT step back in 2021. Kyle Trask, Kyle Pitts, Kadarius Toney and Trevon Grimes ain't walking through that door. Still, Florida is Florida. Heartbreak is never more than a play or two away.
[caption id="attachment_267671" align="alignnone" width="1466"] (Photo: © Dale Zanine | USA TODAY Sports)
Don't be fooled by last season's struggles. The Tigers got some dogs, particularly at cornerback. Derek Stingley Jr. and Eli Ricks are two of the best in college football. Accompanied by former UK recruit Jay Ward at safety, any errant pass can turn into six going the other way in an instant.
National pundits and Georgia fans have cranked the heat up on Kirby Smart this offseason. It might be just what he needs to turn the Dawgs up a notch or two or ten. Even with wide receiver George Pickens sidelined this spring by an ACL injury, quarterback JT Daniels is the key to unlocking the stale offense. It could feel a lot like '80 this year between the hedges.
Starkville has been a house of horrors for the Wildcats. Kentucky has not won a game at Davis Wade Stadium since 2008. The last three losses have been by an average of 26.3 points. To make matters even worse, this year's game is on Halloween weekend. Cowbells have never been more haunting.
The Volunteers are going to be terrible. It is known. Their delusional fans may even realize that Josh Heupel is not the guy by the time Smokey makes the trip up I-75 in November. Even with a depleted roster and questionable quarterbacks, the Air Raid is due for one shocking win a season. Mississippi State proved that against LSU last year. It will happen at some point, just please don't let it be in Lexington.
Vanderbilt Stadium is the least intimidating setting in the Southeastern Conference. That's not always a blessing. The BBN travels well, but that place can still put you to sleep. If the Cats come out sleep walking, this could be a game that's too close for comfort.
Only four teams rank lower than Louisiana Monroe in ESPN's preseason SP+ rankings. New Mexico State is one of those teams. They are No. 130 out of 130. Escape without injuries and consider the mission accomplished.
Since the Governor's Cup moved to the final game of the regular season, the outcome of two meetings has determined a team's postseason fate. This could be the third. With dates against Ole Miss and UCF in September, it's hard to find bankable wins on the Cards' schedule. Despite a fast start in his first season, Scott Satterfield has struggled to recruit and turned off fans by publicly flirting with other schools in the offseason. This game could ultimately decide his fate as the Cardinals' head coach, raising the stakes and bringing Louisville's A-game to the gridiron.
It was nice knowing ya, Scott.