ATLANTA (FOX 56) – The Kentucky football team finished second in the SEC East last season behind eventual-national champion Georgia, who beat the Wildcats when both teams were 6-0 and had control of the division up for grabs.

The Wildcats know that their path back to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game will come with a hard-fought SEC East crown, as the program is still seeking its first appearance since the conference championship game began in 1992.

Despite finishing ahead of Tennessee, Kentucky’s loss to the Volunteers last season was another thorn in the Wildcats’ side as their losing streak extended to three straight games, with Georgia and Mississippi State being the other two losses.

Mark Stoops’ team finished the season 10-3 and won the Citrus Bowl, but has high expectations for the 2022 season and that begins with winning the division. They will look to avenge last year’s 45-42 loss in Lexington by going down to Knoxville and attempt to control Josh Heupel’s high-powered offense.

“You want to coach in this conference because this college football is as good as it gets, the most competitive league in all of college sports, you get to coach against the best, you get to play against the best and you have to reset every single Saturday afternoon or evening man and once you get into the season, man it’s coming at you fast and furious,” Heupel said, who is entering his second season as head coach.

Kentucky played a competitive game against Georgia down in Athens, scoring 13 points on a defense that had only allowed 5.5 points per game up to that point in the season. The Bulldogs lose a number of starters from that historic defense in 2021, but figured to reload with another highly-rated recruiting class.

“Well you don’t change, you don’t change who you are and you don’t change how you go about things, there’s no stone left unturned when you’re the leader of the organization you’re trying to always be relevant stay on top of things you’re trying to monitor things you’re looking for a better way to do things,” Georgia head coach Kirby Smart said.

Here is a look at the 2021 SEC Standings:

  1. Georgia – 8-0 (East), 14-1 overall
  2. Kentucky – 5-3 (East), 10-3 overall
  3. Tennessee – 4-4 (East), 7-6 overall
  4. Missouri – 3-5 (East), 6-7 overall
  5. South Carolina – 3-5 (East), 7-6 overall
  6. Florida – 2-6 (East), 6-7 overall
  7. Vanderbilt – 0-8 (East), 2-10 overall

Kentucky opens the season on Sept. 3 against Miami University (OH) before hitting the road for its SEC opener against Florida on Sept. 10 in Gainesville. Both games are currently scheduled for 7 p.m. kickoffs.