College Football Preview: What Sort of Year Will Kentucky Have in 2012?

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5Dimes has set Kentucky’s 2012 college football win totals at over 5.5 (+250) and under 5.5 (-350). Clearly with such a large discrepancy in juice between the two choices, the oddsmakers don’t think Kentucky has much of a chance of surpassing 5.5 wins, much less 4.5 or 5 wins.

Helping us preview the Wildcats and project their 2012 college football win totals is Glenn Logan from the Kentucky sports website A Sea of Blue.

What are Kentucky’s main strengths this season?

The list isn’t long, but Kentucky’s main strengths appear to be running back and defensive line. UK gets most of the D-line back from last year, and we have been fortunate to recruit some Alabama greyshirt offers at the running back position. Plus, our excellent skill position guys from last year’s recruiting class should now be ready to make an impact.

Offensive line and linebacker – Decimated 

The main weaknesses appear to be the offensive line and linebacking corps, both of which are very young. Kentucky lost one starting guard (Stuart Hines) and both starting offensive tackles (Billy Joe Murphy and Chandler Burden), which means that for all intents and purposes, the line is brand new.

The linebacking corps also graduated the top two tacklers from last year, All-SEC linebackers Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, who played a hybrid linebacker/safety position. Kentucky also lost Ronnie Snead and Ridge Wilson, both starters at linebacker.

Schedule Analysis

Very briefly, Kentucky will likely be favored only in three of their four non-conference games, versus Western Kentucky, Kent State and Samford, an FCS school. Kentucky will be an underdog against Louisville this year on the road, and is likely to be an underdog in every one of its SEC contests.

Kentucky will likely defeat the two small conference and FCS schools. After that, every game they win, if any, will probably be an upset. The two most likely upsets will be as follows, in order of probability:

Vanderbilt on Nov 3rd — it is possible that Kentucky will actually be favored in this game, since it is at Commonwealth Stadium, but that is uncertain. Vanderbilt has upgraded their talent and loses less than UK does.

Mississippi St. on Oct 6th – The Bulldogs lost a lot from a 2-6 SEC record last year, and they have to travel to Commonwealth Stadium. In spite of that, they will almost certainly be favored since Kentucky faces two strong SEC teams, Florida and South Carolina as well as Louisville before welcoming the Bulldogs, and are likely to be at best 3-2.

The remainder of the teams look likely to defeat Kentucky to the point I don’t consider an upset a realistic possibility.

Final thoughts about Kentucky 

This is the most untested and unproven Kentucky team, as far as personnel goes, in a very long time. We have no idea what to expect, but our history does not make UK fans optimistic. Phillips has upgraded the talent at Kentucky, but unfortunately, that talent has yet to deliver on the field.

It is very difficult finding 5, let alone 6 wins on Kentucky’s schedule. As Glenn points out, anything beyond those three non-conference cupcakes will most likely be considered an upset. From the information we currently have available about this team, Kentucky looks like a 4 win team at best. How many games do you think Kentucky will win this season?

- Pez

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Get more great college football analysis over at Saturday Edge.