Will Auburn repeat as SEC champions? What team will emerge as a division darkhorse no one’s talking about? It’s time for Year 2 of our two-week, daily ‘Crystal Ball’ series on how each of the SEC’s 14 teams will finish this fall.

We hit a couple big-time upsets last season including Tennessee’s win over South Carolina, but didn’t expect 12 wins out of Mizzou, a BCS title-game run from Auburn or Florida’s faceplant in Will Muschamp’s third season.


2013 Crystal Ball Projection: 3-9, 0-8
2013 Actual: 2-10, 0-8


Aug. 30 vs. UT Martin (W): Coach Mark Stoops will have hand-picked a starting quarterback from the candidates Patrick Towles, Reese Phillips and Drew Barker by this point, but no matter who is under center, the Wildcats will win their season opener for the first time in three seasons.

Sept. 6 vs. Ohio (W): You’d imagine Kentucky has superior talent, but don’t expect the Bobcats to be a pushover with the opening line likely hovering around a touchdown at kickoff. Former Nebraska coach Frank Solich’s entering his ninth season and has won more games at Ohio than he did with the Huskers.

Sept. 13 at Florida (L): This one’s a pivotal game for the Gators with Alabama looming, but an unbeaten Kentucky team would look credible at 2-0. Oddsmakers know better and take the Wildcats’ 25-game losing streak to Florida — the longest uninterrupted skid in major college football — into consideration as a double-digit underdog.

Sept. 27 vs. Vanderbilt (L): A potential season-definer in Lexington, a win over the Commodores would snap what has now grown into an 17-game SEC losing skid by late September and provide fans with a glimmer of hope toward bowl projections. This one’s a toss-up, but Vandy remains on better coming off back-to-back nine-win seasons.

Oct. 4 vs. South Carolina (L): Kentucky’s 1-3 against the Gamecocks at home since Steve Spurrier’s arrival in 2005, the lone victory coming a week after South Carolina upset unbeaten and top-ranked Alabama in 2010. Two of those losses were decided by a touchdown late in the fourth quarter. Outside of a 51-point pasting in 2011, the Wildcats always seem to do a good job of hanging around against this particular SEC East rival.

Oct. 11 vs. Louisiana-Monroe (W): Picking this game to be the Wildcats’ third and final win. In 2012, the Warhawks took Arkansas and Auburn to overtime and lost to Baylor 47-42, but there’s no dynamic players like quarterback Kolton Browning this time around.

Oct. 18 at LSU (L): Here’s where the tumultuous slide begins for Kentucky, a five-game stretch as the underdog against league competition followed by a rivalry finale. LSU freshman running Leonard Fournette will be known nationwide by this game and he’ll show the Wildcats why he’s an All-Rookie First Team candidate.

Oct. 25 vs. Mississippi State (L): The defensive end combo of Alvin Dupree and Za’Darius Smith could give Mississippi State quarterback Dak Prescott fits, but the Bulldogs find a way to win late, squeaking out a victory on the road to stay in contention in the SEC West.

Nov. 1 at Missouri (L): By Game 9 on the Tigers’ schedule, we’ll have a good idea where Missouri’s at in terms of defending its Eastern Division championship. The mindset in this one’s taking quick care of the Wildcats then lining up Texas A&M in the crosshairs at Kyle Field two weeks later.

Nov. 8 vs. Georgia (L): Since 2002, Kentucky’s beaten two ranked teams in the SEC (2007, LSU; 2010 South Carolina) and both came at Commonwealth Stadium. Here’s another opportunity against a quality opponent at home, but Todd Gurley’s too much as his Heisman campaign nears its finish.

Nov. 15 at Tennessee (L): The Vols are trending up under coach Butch Jones and it’s going to be an extended period of time before Kentucky musters another win against its division rival. This one’s a must-win for Tennessee in hopes of getting to a bowl game.

Nov. 29 at Louisville (L): The Wildcats’ late-season tailspin concludes with their fourth straight loss to Louisville despite an extra week to prepare coming off a bye. Since 2009, this rivalry’s been decided by an average of 10 points per contest and we’re looking at a similar point differential this season.

2014 PROJECTED FINISH: 3-9, 0-8 (7th in East)

THE LOWDOWN: Another winless season in the SEC would equal 24 consecutive losses against conference competition, a tragic number for a program sliding deeper into the cellar before things improve. Stoops is doing it the right way and building his team through recruiting and talent development, but the Wildcats are going to have to endure another year of attrition since there’s as many as six games against ranked teams on the schedule.