Kentucky Strength of Schedule: The SEC’s 5th toughest schedule

NCAA Football: Missouri at Kentucky

SDS takes a trip around the SEC and ranks the schedule strength of all 14 SEC teams. We’ll work our way down to the toughest schedule in the SEC.

2014 SEC Strength of Schedule Rankings:

How the NCAA ranks the SEC’s 2014 strength of schedule
#1: Tennessee strength of schedule
#2: Arkansas strength of schedule
#3: Florida strength of schedule
#4: Auburn strength of schedule
#5: Kentucky strength of schedule
#6: South Carolina strength of schedule
#7: Georgia strength of schedule
#8: LSU strength of schedule
#9: Texas A&M strength of schedule
#10: Ole Miss strength of schedule
#11: Mississippi State strength of schedule
#12: Alabama strength of schedule
#13: Missouri strength of schedule
#14: Vanderbilt strength of schedule

Kentucky played one of college football’s toughest strength of schedules in 2013, and the record showed at 2-10. Things don’t get much easier in 2014. The Cats’ schedule is ranked in the upper half of the SEC, but with an expected improvement, growth and development, Kentucky could sneak up on a few teams.

Kentucky strength of schedule for 2014:

2014 Kentucky Wildcats schedule

  • Aug. 30: UT Martin
  • Sept. 6: Ohio
  • Sept. 13: at Florida
  • Sept. 27: Vanderbilt
  • Oct. 4: South Carolina
  • Oct. 11: UL Monroe
  • Oct. 18: at LSU
  • Oct. 25: Mississippi State
  • Nov. 1: at Missouri
  • Nov. 8: Georgia
  • Nov. 15: at Tennessee
  • Nov. 29: at Louisville

By the Numbers

  • 7 home games
  • 5 away games
  • 1 power non-conference game
  • 5 projected preseason top 25 teams (South Carolina, LSU, Missouri, Georgia, Louisville)

Strength of Schedule Rank

  • SEC East: 3rd
  • SEC overall: 5th

Notes:

  • Cross-divisional opponents: LSU and Mississippi State
  • Opponents winning %: 98-55 (.641)
  • Bye weeks: Before Vanderbilt and Louisville
  • Biggest swing game: Tennessee

Kentucky is looking forward to its non-conference schedule. UT Martin, Ohio and UL Monroe should all be wins, while Louisville replaces key cogs on both sides of the ball and this rivalry could turn into an anticipated matchup to close the season, especially if the Cats are nearing bowl eligibility. The Cardinals are figured by most to be a preseason top 25 team.

LSU and Mississippi State come calling from the SEC Western division. Last year, Kentucky played permanent cross-division rival MSU and Alabama; this year, the Cats draw a rebuilding LSU. A road trip to Baton Rouge is nasty no matter the caliber of team LSU is expected to have.

Can Kentucky maneuver a difficult schedule and somehow scratch out a bowl berth? Swing games against Vanderbilt and Tennessee will be crucial. Nobody knows what the Commodores will look like under Derek Mason, and Tennessee is one of college football’s biggest rebuilding teams and has missed three straight bowl games.

Still, in order for the Cats to make a turnaround from 2-10 and get six wins, they still have to upset two teams that will be favorites: Florida, South Carolina, LSU, Mississippi State, Missouri, Georgia and Louisville. Do you see two wins in those seven games?

Things don’t get real for Kentucky until week three in a road trip to Gainesville, and the toughest stretch will be the second half: at LSU, MSU, at Missouri, Georgia, at Tennessee and at Louisville. That’s a brutal finish.

Can Mark Stoops have a big turnaround in 2014? The non-conference schedule could permit four wins (Louisville will be favorites), and swing games against Tennessee and Vanderbilt could help this club actually land a bowl berth.

Photo Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

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