UK football looks to improve all-time record in SEC home openers


Captains. Courtney Love. Mike Edwards. Stephen Johnson. Nick Haynes. The University of Kentucky football team vs EKU on Saturday, September 9, 2017, at Kroger Field in Lexington, Ky. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

As Kentucky continues its great start to the 2018 season, the Cats will get ready for one of their bigger games of the season, the SEC home opener.

Of course, the Cats are already 1-0 in the SEC after their historic win over Florida, but that game was played in Gainesville. Kentucky’s two other games this season have been played in Kroger Field, but they were against non-conference opponents.

Saturday will be the Lexington locals’ first chance to see a conference opponent in person, but unfortunately for Cats fans, those SEC home openers usually don’t go well.

In Kentucky’s 86 SEC home openers, the Cats are 30-55-1. The one tie came in 1952, when Kentucky and Mississippi couldn’t break the score of 13-13 in Lexington.

Early in Kentucky’s conference history, a lot of losses mounted from Mississippi and Auburn. In recent history, many losses come from Alabama and Florida, which was part of the 31-season losing streak to the Gators.

As for Mississippi State, the team Kentucky will play on Sept. 22, the Cats are undefeated in four separate SEC home openers when playing the Bulldogs. Kentucky last hosted Mississippi State for its conference home opener in 1990, when the Cats beat the Bulldogs 17-15.

Of those four contests, two of them were decided by four points or less. All four of the Kentucky-Mississippi State SEC home openers in Lexington have also been played under the lights.

Overall, the Cats are 22-23 against the Bulldogs, with Mississippi State taking eight of the last nine games. However, Mississippi State has a new head coach after Dan Mullen decided to leave the Bulldogs behind and accept the head coaching position at Florida.

Jim Moorhead has taken over the helm at Mississippi State and has gotten the Bulldogs off to a strong start. Mississippi State is Moorhead’s first FBS head coaching job, as he previously was the head coach of Fordham.

This season is Mark Stoops’ sixth season as the head coach for Kentucky, and he is 2-3 in SEC home openers, with the wins coming in 2014 against Vanderbilt and in 2016 against South Carolina.

If Kentucky is able to win, the Cats will secure their fifth SEC home opener of the 21st century and even the series against the Bulldogs. It will also improve the Cats to 2-0 in the conference, which will certainly spark some debate on how high the Cats can finish in the SEC East.