Heading into 2020 Mark Stoops’ Kentucky Wildcats have gone 18-8 over the last two seasons. That’s the best two year stretch for the program since 1976-77. Were this a normal season Kentucky’s opener would have been against Eastern Michigan. However this is anything but a normal year. With the SEC going to a 10 game conference only schedule the Cats kick off the season with a league game for the first time since playing Georgia Tech in 1960. In addition they begin at one of the toughest places in the SEC. Can they pick up a huge road win? Let’s find out as we begin previewing Kentucky at Auburn.
Previewing Kentucky At Auburn
Terry Touchdown’s Return
It’s been a little over a year, September 7, 2019 to be exact, since starting quarterback Terry Wilson went down to a torn patellar tendon. Now he’s back and ready to lead the Wildcat offense. In his two years at Kentucky Wilson’s gone 12-3 as a starter and led UK to their first New Year’s bowl win since 1952. More than likely offensive coordinator Eddie Gran will start slowly with his quarterback. Which is fine because Kentucky has one of the best groups of running backs in the SEC. The trio of A.J. Rose, Kavosiey Smoke and Christopher Rodriguez ran for nearly 2,000 yards a season ago. When Wilson does throw look for Belk Bowl hero Josh Ali as the main target.
On the other side of the ball the Wildcats return arguably the best secondary in the SEC. Add in LSU transfer Kelvin Joseph and the group is even stronger. The front seven is headed by linebackers DeAndre Square and Jamar “Boogie” Watson.
Great Show Of Support
As you are probably well aware Kentucky’s going into the 2020 season without a major player on defense. Linebacker Chris Oats, who the Cats were expecting big things from this year, is out due to an undisclosed medical issue. The only thing the coaching staff has said is it’s not COVID related.
Stoops announced earlier this week during the upcoming season a different player will wear Oats’ number 22 during each game to show he’s still with them. On Saturday Square gets the honor. The following week Oats’ roommate Keaton Upshaw will wear it for the home opener against Ole Miss.
— DeAndre Square (@d_square10) September 21, 2020
As we continue previewing Kentucky at Auburn let’s now look at the home team.
Scouting The Tigers
A season ago Auburn went 9-4 playing one of the toughest schedules in college football. They capped off the year with a 31-24 loss to Minnesota in the Outback Bowl. Quarterback Bo Nix returns after setting several freshman school records. In 2019 he threw for over 2,500 yards and 16 touchdowns. In addition he ran for another 313 yards and seven more scores. Historically Kentucky’s had trouble with dual threat quarterbacks, though they’ve gotten much better over the last couple of years.
Shaun Shivers looks like the starter at running back after running for 286 yards a year ago. Another player to watch is freshman Tank Bigsby. However Coach Gus Malzahn says as many as five backs could play on Saturday. One place Auburn has an advantage is at wide receiver. The tandem of Seth Williams and Anthony Schwartz combined for 100 receptions a season ago. The match up between the Auburn receivers and Kentucky secondary looms large.
Over on defense the Tigers are missing a couple of key players from 2019 but have some talented players looking to step up. Up front Tyrone Trusdell will garner lots of attention from Kentucky’s “Big Blue Wall.” Two others to watch are linebacker K.J. Britt and defensive back Christian Tutt both are All-SEC caliber players.
“A Friendly Wager”
During Tuesday night’s NBA On TNT broadcast Kentucky basketball coach John Calipari and Auburn Hall Of Famer Charles Barkley made a wager on Saturday’s game. Calipari said if the Cats win then Barkley should grow a beard. However if the Tigers win then Coach Cal has to shave the beard he’s grown since the Coronavirus pandemic began.
Is the beard in jeopardy?
— Kentucky Basketball (@KentuckyMBB) September 23, 2020
Just a little fun between old friends, however it does reiterate the general lack of respect shown toward this Kentucky Football team. In addition it’s certainly another motivator for Saturday.
The Last Time They Met And Series History
Auburn leads the series all-time 26-6 with one tie. Furthermore the Tigers have won 17 of the last 18 and 18 of the last 21. However the last time Kentucky traveled to Auburn they pulled out a 21-14 victory. The win made our list of Kentucky’s best wins of the 2000’s. In the last meeting in 2015 the Tigers jumped out to a 23-10 halftime lead then held on for a 30-27 win.
It’s prediction time as we’re previewing Kentucky At Auburn here at Last Word On College Football. Now that we’ve looked at the game let’s pick a winner.
Who Wins On Saturday?
Kentucky starts this season ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 1978. As a result they are determined to prove that ranking isn’t a fluke. The Tigers have questions on the offensive and defensive lines as they replace numerous starters from last season. Look for Kentucky to take advantage running behind the “Big Blue Wall.” In Wilson’s first game back he shouldn’t have to throw the ball 25-30 times. If he does that means the Cats are behind and playing catch up. In the end Kentucky controls the line of scrimmage and the game and comes away with a huge road win.
Kentucky 21- Auburn 17
Thanks for previewing Kentucky at Auburn with us. What’s your prediction on the game? Leave a comment below or head over to our twitter page. As mentioned earlier the Cats gets a visit from the “Lane Train” as Ole Miss comes to town. We’ll recap this game and get you ready for the battle with Rebels next time out.