LEXINGTON, Ky. — The grind of the SEC slate is over and Kentucky gets the next closest thing to an extra bye week when it hosts Austin Peay at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Governors from Clarksville, Tenn., haven’t won a game in more than two years and are coming off a 37-point loss to Eastern Kentucky. The Wildcats (5-5, 4-4 SEC) are a near lock to clinch their first bowl bid since 2010.
Here are five questions for Kentucky heading into the matchup.
How big might the margin be?
By kickoff time, it will have been 763 days since Austin Peay last won a football game. The FCS program is winless this season after not winning all of last year. Troy is the only FBS side Austin Peay has faced this season — the Governors lost 57-17.
Coach Mark Stoops said Monday that Kentucky is in no position to overlook anybody. While the matchup couldn’t be more lopsided on paper, knowing a bowl bid is on the line should erase any chances Kentucky overlooks Saturday’s matchup before the season finale at Louisville.
Austin Peay has lost by double digits in all but two games this season, and those are against fellow FCS teams. The transition from FCS to SEC won’t be an easy one.
How much will Luke Wright play?
Kentucky’s backup quarterback isn’t well known, but Wright could see considerable action on Saturday. The Cincinnati transfer followed offensive coordinator Eddie Gran and quarterbacks coach Darin Hinshaw to Kentucky.
Wright started the season as the Wildcats fourth-string option behind Drew Barker, Stephen Johnson and Gunnar Hoak. Impending back surgery has sidelined Barker and Kentucky won’t pull the redshirt off the freshman Hoak.
The score should be well out of reach by halftime and Kentucky might want to prevent any possible injury to Johnson. The offense would be handed to the sophomore Wright.
Should Kentucky risk playing Jordan Jones and Jeff Badet?
Much like protecting Johnson, Kentucky needs sophomore linebacker Jordan Jones and junior receiver Jeff Badet at their best for Louisville and a potential bowl game.
Jones and Badet are an even bigger concern as both left the Tennessee game with injuries. Jones suffered from back spasms and Badet was dealing with a hip pointer. Stoops said both should be ready to play on Saturday, but is it worth the risk?
What will the atmosphere be like?
Commonwealth Stadium was at its fullest two weeks ago against Georgia. More than 62,000 contributed to a near-capacity crowd — the only time this season Kentucky’s attendance went north of 60,000.
Kentucky-Austin Peay isn’t the most attractive of matchups, but Wildcats fans could see Kentucky secure its first bowl trip since 2010. It’s the last home game of the season and will be interesting to see what kind of support Kentucky gets.
Where could Kentucky go bowling?
Our SEC Country bowl projections have the Wildcats heading to Shreveport, La., to play Wake Forest in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 26. A matchup the day after Christmas would make the trip tough for Kentucky fans, but any bowl bid would silence most complaints.
The Independence Bowl gets the last pick of the SEC qualified teams, so a bowl before it could potentially pick Kentucky. Other bowls in play for Kentucky include the Music City Bowl, Texas Bowl, Belk Bowl, Liberty Bowl and Birmingham Bowl.