Today we continue our conference wide preview and take a look at Kentucky. The 2011 season will be briefly reviewed and a team by team break down of the schedule will be included along with a couple of keys to the season. Stats and returning starters come from Phil Steele.
Coach: Joker Phillips (11-14) 3rd season at Kentucky
Team: Kentucky Wildcats
2011 recap: 2011 was not a good year for Kentucky. After significant progress under Rich Brooks, Kentucky's win totals have dropped in Phillips' first two years. 2010 saw the Wildcats go 6-6 (thanks to an upset win against South Carolina) with a loss in the Compass Bowl. 2011 5-7 overall record left the Wildcats at home for the first time since 2005.
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Kentucky was able to gut-out OOC wins against two directional teams in Western Kentucky and Central Michigan. Week 3 against Louisville launched UK on a three game skid that wasn't stopped until the Wildcats trumped pay for play Jacksonville State. Phillips was able to split the next two games against Mississippi State and Ole Miss respectively.
Vanderbilt and Georgia knocked Kentucky out of bowl contention, but the season may have been saved with an ugly 10-7 win against a Tennessee team that had admittedly, quit. No doubt snapping the longest active losing streak in D1 was a salve for many Kentucky fans, but questions still loom about the future of the program under Phillips.
Best case/Worst case: (6-6/3-9) Kentucky opens at Louisville and the Wildcats will have their work cut out for them from the start. Weeks 2 and 3 will see bring two pay for play W's to Lexington in Kent State and WKU (again). Western Kentucky may be the last win Kentucky gets until Samford rolls in the week before Thanksgiving. Kentucky only returns eleven starters that only managed one SEC win in 2011. Not much indicates Phillips will turn it around. Kentucky will win the three paid for games and is good for one SEC upset, but that is it.
Losses: Florida, South Carolina, Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee
Toss up: Louisville, Mississippi State, Vanderbilt,
Show up and win: Kent St, WKU, Samford
Bryant Roberts is a life long SEC fan, has 2 autographed pictures of Steve Spurrier, is addicted to BBQ, and a graduate of Presbyterian College. Follow him on twitter here.
Get more great South Carolina sports analysis over at Leftover Hot Dog.