Jen Smith on UK Football

Kentucky’s 2017 football schedule includes one surprise addition

Drew Barker has overcome a tough loss before

If you thought Saturday at Florida was the first time he had experienced a game like that -- two completions; three interceptions -- Kentucky quarterback Drew Barker says you're wrong.
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If you thought Saturday at Florida was the first time he had experienced a game like that -- two completions; three interceptions -- Kentucky quarterback Drew Barker says you're wrong.

With game contracts being finalized more than five years out now, there are few surprises when a new football schedule comes out. Sometimes the only mystery that remains is what order the games will go.

Kentucky fans got some answers Tuesday night when the Cats’ 2017 football schedule was released on the SEC Network. There were non-conference games against Southern Miss and Eastern Michigan as expected, but Eastern Kentucky was an unexpected addition on Sept. 9 after UK travels to Hattiesburg, Miss., for the opener on Sept. 2.

The Colonels nearly upset Kentucky in 2015, with UK needing overtime to come back from 14 points down to knock out EKU at Commonwealth Stadium. The Cats have won all four games they’ve played against the Colonels.

The contract, which was finalized in January, is a one-game deal in which Kentucky pays a flat $500,000 fee to Eastern Kentucky ($50,000 more than UK had to pay for the 2015 game) for the contest at Commonwealth Stadium with no return commitment.

The Southeastern Conference schedule begins on the road again for Kentucky with a trip to South Carolina on Sept. 16, where UK halted a 22-game league road losing streak in 2015.

Then the Cats head home for five of their next six games with games against Florida (Sept. 23), Eastern Michigan (Sept. 30), Missouri (Oct. 7) and at Mississippi State (Oct. 21) before heading home for two straight games against Tennessee (Oct. 28) and SEC West foe Ole Miss (Nov. 4).

Of course, so many games at home means two straight on the road before the season finale against Louisville on Nov. 25 at Commonwealth Stadium. Before its annual battle with the Cardinals, Kentucky plays at Vanderbilt (Nov. 11) and at Georgia (Nov. 18).

Jennifer Smith: 859-231-3241, @jenheraldleader

2017 Kentucky football schedule

Sept. 2: at Southern Miss

Sept. 9: EASTERN KENTUCKY

Sept. 16: at South Carolina

Sept. 23: FLORIDA

Sept. 30: EASTERN MICHIGAN

Oct. 7: MISSOURI

Oct. 21: at Mississippi State

Oct. 28: TENNESSEE

Nov. 4: MISSISSIPPI

Nov. 11: at Vanderbilt

Nov. 18: at Georgia

Nov. 25: LOUISVILLE

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