- Game Time: Noon EST on September 26th, 2020
- Location: Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, AL
- TV Channel: Today’s game can be seen on the SEC Network
- Announcers: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic.
- Radio: Tom Leach and Jeff Piecoro will have the UK radio network call on 630 AM, 98.1 FM in Lexington, and on the UK Sports Network.
- Online radio: TuneIn broadcast or UKAthletics.com.
- Live Online Stream:
- Odds: Auburn is a 7.5-point favorite. ESPN FPI gives the Wildcats a 15.1% chance of winning.
- Replay: WatchESPN and SEC Network (check local listings).
- Rosters: UK | AU
- Weather Report
- Prediction: TeamRankings has the Tigers winning 29-22, while numberFire went with a 31-18 win for Auburn.
While we wait for the game, get fired up with this hype video!
The Kentucky Wildcats football team is coming off of four consecutive winning seasons. Even though last season was derailed by injuries in the quarterback room, the Wildcats rallied to go 8-5 with wide receiver Lynn Bowden taking snaps.
Mark Stoops and his staff have often talked about developing a strong program instead of a just having a good team every few years. Being competitive consistently is the sign of a well-established Power 5 program, and Stoops will settle for nothing less.
For the 2020 season, Kentucky probably has the most talented roster across the board that they have had in my lifetime. Even without recent stars like Bowden, Josh Allen, and Benny Snell, the Wildcats have play makers at absolutely every position.
And in a year of uncertainty, with COVID-19 on the prowl to ruin everyone’s season, Kentucky also has the depth to take a hit or two due to coronavirus restrictions.
However, a huge wrinkle thrown in the plan for this season is the SEC only schedule. Kentucky lost several probably wins and picked up two new opponents from the SEC West in Alabama and Ole Miss. But the first team on the schedule has been on there for the beginning as Kentucky will head to Auburn on Saturday to take on the Tigers.
Kentucky’s all-time record against the Tigers is 6-26-1, with Auburn winning the last two match-ups in 2010 and 2015, respectively. The last three match-ups between these schools have all been close, however.
The last two wins by Auburn have been by the scores of 30-27 (2015) and 37-34 (2010). Kentucky’s last victory in the series came at Auburn in 2009 as the Wildcats won 21-14. So for the last three meetings, the combined score has been UK 82, Auburn 81. It is also worth noting that the away team has won the last four match-ups in the series.
On the field, this is a very interesting match-up for both teams. Kentucky has pounded the ball on the ground in recent years, and they return every single running back from last season. AJ Rose, Chris Rodriguez, and Kavosiey Smoke all look to have break-out seasons behind Kentucky’s highly touted offensive line.
However, with Terry Wilson back on the field and looking healthy, there has been some buzz about the Kentucky offense opening up and throwing the ball around a little more. None of us really know what to expect from the Wildcats’ offensive scheme this weekend, which means that Auburn’s coaching staff is guessing in their preparation.
Auburn is very explosive offensively. The Kentucky coaching staff knows what they are up against, and they hope that they have been able to get the right type of preparation in during practice.
“Huge challenge,” Kentucky defensive coordinator Brad White said after practice on Wednesday. “It’s hard to make adjustments and checks. Tempo always creates some communication issues. It’s one of those things that, until you face it live, you really can’t replicate it in practice.”
Gus Malzahn has a lot of faith in true sophomore Bo Nix, and rightfully so. Nix passed for over 2,500 yards a season ago, hitting nearly 58% of his passes and throwing 16 touchdowns to only six interceptions. With their leading rusher from last season, JaTarvious Whitlow, out with injury, they still have sophomore DJ Williams to carry the load on the ground. He averaged nearly 5 yards per carry last season on 84 touches.
You will be hard pressed to find many wide receivers in the SEC better than Seth Williams, who had 840 receiving yards and eight touchdowns last year. He was the work horse for the receiving core last year, and looks to be Nix’s top target again this fall. However, Malzahn is aware of how competitive Kentucky will be in the secondary.
“They make you earn it,” Malzahn said in his preseason press conference. “You look at the big play cut-up from last year and there’s not a lot of big, explosive pass plays over the top. They do a great job of keeping everything in front of them. Like I said, they know their answers. If they get hurt on something, they adjust really quick. You can tell they’ve been in that system a long time. In fact, they’ve got most of their guys back. Like I said, I think early on, the teams that have experience and not going through spring, are going to have an advantage.”
Experience is certainly something Kentucky has on the defensive side of the ball. The Wildcats return seven of their top nine tacklers from last year, including almost the entire secondary. DeAndre Square will anchor the linebackers with the loss of Kash Daniel and Chris Oats.
The strong defensive front returns Boogie Watson, Quinton Bohanna, Marquan McCall, and Josh Paschal. That should bode well for Kentucky as Auburn lost four starting offensive linemen from last year. This is easily the deepest Kentucky has even been on defense, and they will need it against Auburn.
Auburn’s defense is quite the opposite. They lost two defensive linemen, including Derrick Brown as the No. 7 overall pick in the NFL Draft. They also lost four starters from the secondary, and that is likely the weakest unit on that side of the ball for the Tigers. This may be a great opportunity for wide receivers Josh Ali, Bryce Oliver, and Clevan Thomas to start the season off right.
Having strong linebackers has never been a problem for Auburn, and KJ Britt is poised to anchor a Tigers defense that is out to prove they are still in the top tier of the SEC. Will young guys be able to step up and make an immediate impact for this unit? Or will a lack of experience cause problems for Auburn early in the season?
The contrast in styles makes this a very interesting match-up for any college football fan. Will it be Auburn’s electric offense that takes the win on Saturday? Will it be Kentucky’s methodical ground game? Or will we see an entirely new Kentucky offense entirely? It is more likely that the defense that makes the best in-game adjustments will start out the season 1-0.
Many around the country are counting Kentucky out already due to the names on the front of the jerseys. Make no mistake, this will be a physical, close football game. Stay tuned here to A Sea of Blue for all of your breaking news and analysis for the game on Saturday. Kick-off is a noon, see you there.