Kentucky is a basketball school. Everyone knows that. The football team is usually the laughing stock of the SEC. I remember when we lost at home to Western Kentucky University a few seasons ago and a WKU player was seen on the sidelines very distinctively saying, “They’re supposed to be SEC?!” A new coach was hired to bring hope to this downtrodden fanbase. It’s taken awhile. But you know what? We aren’t totally there, but we’re on our way, baby!
If you remember before the season began, I predicted that at the halfway point, the Wildcats had a very legitimate chance at being 6-0. Yes, the SEC East is really struggling this year and our out of conference slate wasn’t exactly stellar. But as we’ve seen weekend after weekend, on any given night, things can go really badly, really quickly: LSU losing at home to Troy on homecoming night, Clemson losing to Syracuse, Louisville losing at home to Boston College (hehe).
The Kentucky Wildcats are sitting at 5-1 at the halfway point of this season. You read that right. 5-1. I was ONE POINT away from my prediction being 100% right. The universe decided that it wasn’t ready to explode yet, so Kentucky did the human race a favor and lost to Florida for the 31st year in a row. The final score ended up being 28-27, which, if you’re a lifelong Kentucky football fan like myself, you saw coming from a mile away. Once the Cats had a 6 point lead with little time left in the 4th quarter, you knew the Gators would march down the field and get a touchdown with extra point to take the one point lead. As heartbreaking as this loss was, it was equally frustrating because Kentucky really did look like the better team that night. To make it all seem even more gut-wrenching, we served up two touchdowns on a silver platter to Florida. Twice, out of time outs, we sent 10 men out on defense and left a wide receiver wide open. Each time, all the quarterback had to do was toss the ball in their general direction, and it was smooth sailing all the way to the end zone for six. As Big Blue Nation likes to say time and time again, “That’s so Kentucky Football.”
The Cats were able to recover and, as UK analyst Freddie Maggard likes to say, “didn’t let Florida beat them twice.” Too often you see a team come off a highly emotional loss and end up letting the emotions of the week before cloud their performance, costing them two losses instead. Eastern Michigan put up a valiant fight, just like I expected them to, and turned it into yet another nail biter in the 4th quarter of that game. The Cats were able to hold on (barely) and get the 20-24 victory.
The Missouri game was much like the Eastern Michigan game. It was really back and forth the entire game. The Tigers have a really talented quarterback. Drew Lock did a great job of picking apart Georgia’s secondary on Saturday and is no stranger to a perfectly thrown long ball. The Tigers had the ball marching down the field with seconds left on the clock and were looking to score a touchdown and an extra point to take the lead. But an officials’ error (according to a release by the SEC) and some okay defense by Kentucky put another tally in the win column for the Wildcats.
After a bye week and with what Coach Stoops believes will be a full, healthy roster, the Wildcats head down to Starkville to take on Mississippi State. In my pre-season predictions, this is where I marked down Kentucky’s first loss of the season. I think that I might have to stay with that one, although, this is a closer matchup than I thought it would be before the season began. With our full roster back, including defensive specialist Jordan Jones, the Cats could pull off an upset here. I’ll be rooting for it, but not really expecting it. Here’s hoping I’m wrong and I can come back next week and tell you just that! Who do you see winning it? Leave a prediction below!
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