Why Kentucky Football will be biggest surprise of SEC in 2022

The SEC is appropriately expected to make a lot of noise in 2022, and Kentucky football will be a big reason as to why.

The Southeastern Conference is not a league for the weak, as it has possessed the last three national champions, along with donning an astounding 13 bowl teams in 2021.

Some of the biggest names in that bunch from last season include Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, Arkansas, and…Kentucky?

No, you read that right. The Kentucky football team was one of the conference’s top powers last year, winning nine games in the Wildcats regular-season stretch before hitting their 10th victory through a battle with Iowa in the Citrus Bowl.

For a program that has historically been rather unspectacular, that is no minor accomplishment. However, as the past few years have progressed, a 10-win run just might start meaning less and less.

Surprisingly enough, Kentucky football is getting quite used to noteworthy performances, as the quality of last season did not come completely out of nowhere.

Success is nothing new for Kentucky football

The Wildcats have seen a bowl game every year for six years straight (winning the last four of them), with their last time not doing so being in 2015. In that span, they have amassed eight wins or more on three occasions.

This is despite them sharing a division with the Tennessee Volunteers, Florida Gators, and Georgia Bulldogs—none of which should ever even have to break a sweat when facing the likes of Kentucky.

And while we’re at it, UK’s out-of-conference opposition isn’t typically a cakewalk, either.

In recent memory, the Wildcats have prioritized facing competition at the Group of 5 level or higher, with one of their headlining matchups being an annual battle with their in-state rival, Louisville of the ACC.

Anything outside of league play should not be too big of a hassle nowadays, however, as the talent of Kentucky Wildcats head coach Mark Stoops and his staff has proven to be immeasurable (especially with his squad being 5th in 2022 SEC recruiting).

Combining that with the fact that Kentucky Football has only suffered one out-of-conference loss since the start of the 2017-18 season, only the exclusive group of SEC programs that are noticeably superior stand as the true threats.

Said exclusive group consists of the aforementioned names: Georgia, Alabama, Ole Miss, and Arkansas. And of those four, how many do the Cats face in the 2022 regular season? Two–Ole Miss and Georgia–with the tougher one having to head into Lexington.

It’s not like the Kentucky Wildcats will be fighting for a playoff spot, or even the SEC crown, anytime soon, but they’re surely looking to make some serious noise for the foreseeable future. And based on what we’ve seen from them so far, I wouldn’t recommend doubting their ability to do so.