Kentucky's five-year bowl streak ended in 2011, meaning the pressure will really be on coach Joker Phillips to pull off a few upsets and get the Wildcats back to the postseason in 2012.
A quick glance at the 2012 schedule reveals that Kentucky might only be favored in three of its 12 games -- Kent State, Western Kentucky and Samford. Road trips to Louisville, Florida, Arkansas, Missouri and Tennessee won't be easy, but perhaps the Wildcats can steal a win or two with home games against Vanderbilt and/or Mississippi State.
Here's a look at some key matchups for the Wildcats in 2012:
Must-see matchup: at Louisville, Sept. 2
This in-state battle has been decided by seven or fewer points the last three years. This game could set the tempo for both teams' season. A win here could easily help the Wildcats to a 3-0 start and give them some momentum heading into SEC play.
Upset alert: vs. Western Kentucky, Sept. 15
The Hilltoppers gave Kentucky all it wanted in 2011 before the Wildcats eventually pulled out a 14-3 win. They may be even better in 2012. They won seven of their final eight games in 2011, and they will be hungry for their first win against a major-conference opponent since moving up to FBS in 2008.
It's a breeze: Sept. 2 – 15 -- at Louisville, vs. Kent State, Western Kentucky
There's no stretch on the schedule where Kentucky will be heavily favored in every game, but the opening portion is the best chance for the Wildcats to grab a few consecutive wins. Getting two out of these three wins would be acceptable, but getting all three would be a big boost.
This stretch may feel like a lot longer than five weeks for the Wildcats. All but Mississippi State are expected to contend for their division in the SEC, and all five should be significant favorites against Kentucky. Getting one win in this stretch would be great news for the Wildcats.
Sept 2: at Louisville
Sept. 8: Kent State
Sept. 15: Western Kentucky
Sept. 22: at Florida
Sept. 29: South Carolina
Oct. 6: Mississippi State
Oct. 13: at Arkansas
Oct. 20: Georgia
Oct. 27: at Missouri
Nov. 3: Vanderbilt
Nov. 10: OPEN
Nov. 17: Samford
Nov. 24: at Kentucky
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from SEC bloggers Larry Hartstein and Daniel Lewis, follow @CBSSportsSEC.