Second-half outlook: Kentucky

Posted by ESPN.com's Chris Low

As much as any team in the league, Kentucky has demonstrated the kind of perseverance you can build on during the second half of the season, and that’s precisely the plan for the Wildcats. Starting quarterback Mike Hartline remains out with a knee injury, but Rich Brooks will use a combination of players to fill in for him, including Randall Cobb. The versatile sophomore will be a huge key for the Wildcats down the stretch. The more they can get the ball in his hands, the better off they will be. The Wildcats are through the teeth of their schedule, and they’re hopeful of getting cornerback Trevard Lindley back from an ankle injury sooner rather than later. Four of their final six games are at home, including a pair of nonconference games they will be big favorites in. The win over Auburn last week puts Kentucky in great shape to go back to a bowl game.

Best-case scenario: The Wildcats avoid any more serious injuries. Lindley’s return to the defense makes that unit even stronger, and Kentucky goes 5-1 the rest of the way, capped by a win over Tennessee to snap the Vols’ 24-game winning streak in the series. An 8-4 record gets Kentucky into the Chick-fil-A Bowl.

Worst-case scenario: The offense bogs down. The defense also loses its stinger after having to play 11 straight weeks without a bye to end the season, and the Wildcats only win twice more the rest of the way and miss out on a bowl.

Prediction: A 7-5 record and trip to the Papajohns.com Bowl, where the Wildcats will go for their fourth straight bowl win.