BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WDRB) -- For the Kentucky Wildcats, there's reason for optimism in a time where every SEC football team starts (on paper, at least) on equal footing.

Head coach Mark Stoops enters his third season in Lexington, where he has taken the team from 2-10 in his inaugural campaign, to 5-7 last year. The Wildcats were a couple of plays away from a shot at the postseason.

Add to that the fact that UK has eight (!) home games this season in a renovated Commonwealth Stadium, well, you can imagine hopes are high that the Wildcats have a real opportunity to appear in their first bowl game since the loss to Pittsburgh here in the 2011 BBVA Compass Bowl.

"I feel like this year, we're just working to get to a bowl game," said senior offensive tackle Jordan Swindle at Wednesday's SEC Media Days. "It would definitely be a disappointment if we didn't go to a bowl game. Four years without a bowl game would kind of hurt my feelings."

Stoops knows his team is aiming for a 13th game.

"I'm not going to take that away from the players as long as we stay with the day-to-day approach," Stoops said. "Anybody in our program would be disappointed if we didn't make progress and one more (win) would certainly put us in a bowl game."

Kentucky opens the season September 5th at Commonwealth Stadium against Louisiana-Lafayette, a team that finished 9-4 last season with a New Orleans Bowl victory over Nevada.

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