If football ticket sales lag in 2013, it won't be because of Kentucky's schedule, which features some big-name matchups at home.
Shortly after the Southeastern Conference released next season's slate of games Thursday, UK announced its own full football schedule, which includes marquee home games against Alabama, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee and Louisville.
Kentucky will open its season Aug. 31 against Western Kentucky at Nashville's LP Field, marking the sixth time the Cats have played in an NFL stadium.
Following the season opener, the Cats have three straight home games, starting with Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 7 and Louisville on Sept. 14. After an open week, UK will open its SEC schedule by playing host to Florida on Sept. 28 before traveling to South Carolina on Oct. 5.
Alabama will be at Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 12. Kentucky is 2-35-1 all-time against the Crimson Tide, with the last win coming in 1997.
Another team from the state of Alabama, first-time opponent Alabama State (Nov. 2), will be sandwiched between SEC games at Mississippi State (Oct. 26) and home against Missouri (Nov. 9).
Two of Kentucky's final three games are on the road next season, with back-to-back contests at Vanderbilt (Nov. 16) and Georgia (Nov. 23).
The Cats' regular season will end in Lexington on Nov. 30 against Tennessee.
UK's two open dates fall on Sept. 21 and Oct. 19.
In its news release, the SEC office noted that the new schedule represents a "bridge schedule," which is not based on previous or future scheduling formats. It has been used as the league works out how it wants to proceed since Texas A&M and Missouri were added to the league.
The SEC plans to finalize a permanent rotation of cross-division opponents in 2014 after athletic directors meet in the spring.
"As we began working on the 2013 football schedule, it became apparent that the conference would need another year of the 'bridge' schedule to make everything work," SEC Commissioner Mike Slive said.
The eight-game conference schedules have six games played inside the division and two games against teams from the opposite division.
Safety Ashely Lowery (concussion) will play on Saturday against Georgia after he "did everything that we needed him to do to show us that he can play," Kentucky Coach Joker Phillips said.
Senior safety Martavius Neloms (hamstring) is doubtful, but not completely ruled out. He "did very little today, but he's got 48 hours, especially with a late game, so we'll take a look at him and see," Phillips said.
Senior cornerback Cartier Rice (hip flexor) will be able to play as well.
Freshman quarterback Patrick Towles (high ankle sprain) remains highly unlikely for Saturday. "He did a good job of signaling today," Phillips said. "That's about all he did."
Sanders will honor friend
Junior running back Raymond Sanders will change his uniform number for the Georgia game, opting to wear No. 26 instead of No. 4, as a tribute to senior running back CoShik Williams, who will miss the rest of the season with a hip injury. "It's a chance to honor him with his buddy wearing it," Phillips said of Sanders, adding that it will be a one-time thing.
■ Game captains are right guard Larry Warford and defensive end Taylor Wyndham, both seniors. They will join permanent game captains and fellow linemen Matt Smith and Collins Ukwu.
Keeneland seeblue Day
Two former Cats and current Denver Broncos, Jacob Tamme and Wesley Woodyard, will be at Keeneland on Friday as part of the seeblue Day festivities. They will be signing autographs on Keeneland's North Terrace starting at 12:30 p.m.
The seeblue Day at Keeneland is an annual event put on by the UK Alumni Association as a part of homecoming festivities. All faculty, staff, students and UK Alumni Association members get free general admission.