Some days you really have to feel bad for Wildcat fans – at least
during football season. While sometimes putting up a good fight and
upsetting their big brothers season every now and then, the Wildcats
have typically been the SEC bottom feeders Then we hear the inevitable
“just wait till basketball season”. Well that didn’t exactly work out
well for them last season. After a dismal 2-10 season, Kentucky
parted ways with alumnus, former Offensive Coordinator and head coach
Joker Phillips who is now coaching wideouts for THE FLORIDA GATORS.
It is quite a task to find a bright spot to any portion of this
football team in 2012 that averaged 17.9 points per game on offense
and a defense that allowed an average of 31.0 points. The most
significant wins the Wildcats had in 2012 were well their only wins
vs. Kent State and Samford. Outside the SEC losses they also lost to
Louisville and Western Kentucky with an average margin of loss by 22
points per game. OUCH. Wildkitty Nation welcomes to Lexington former
FSUcks Defensive Coordinator Mark Stoops of the Stoops Brother clan to
instill a new attitude into the football program and hopefully turn
things around. If the way he has been recruiting is any sign, he may
be off to a good start, but he has a serious uphill battle before
Kentucky will be competitive again and the schedule won’t get any
easier in 2013.
8/31 WKU (in Nashville)
These two teams met in 2012, and the Hilltoppers took Kentucky through
overtime to pull out a 32-31 win. Kentucky allowed 323 yards of total
offense compared to the 224 total yards and zero points Alabama
allowed the HIlltoppers the week before. No one is expecting the
Wildcats to field a football team even remotely as talented as Alabama
(and probably never will) , but the comparison shows just how much
work Kentucky has to do if they want to make any sort of stand in the
SEC. Mark Stoops should show some improvement on the defensive side
of the ball, but that will come over time and without an experience QB
in place points may be hard to come by from the offense. Petrino, who
is in his first year as head coach of the Hilltoppers, knows how to
get the best out of his players and can scheme an offense like the
best of them. With those factors, I am giving the slight edge to
Western Kentucky. HIlltoppers by 3.
9/7 Miami University
In 2012, the RedHawks of Miami-Ohio lost to Ball State, Central
Michigan, Kent State, Buffalo, Bowling Green, and Cincinnati. That
does not include losses to Ohio State and Boise State. The wins the
RedChickens accounted for are S. Illinois, UMASS, Akron, and Ohio.
Not very impressive. And none of those were exactly the blow outs you
would expect. Mark Stoops will want to probably use this opportunity
to teach this team how to win so they know what it feels like. Not
sure this ends up as big of a win as it should or needs to be, but
it’s a W nonetheless and they will want to take all they can get. And
they better get this W or else Stoops may Wildkitties by 17.
When it was announced that Louisville was going to play THE FLORIDA
GATORS in the Sugar Bowl, a lot of people looked at that game as an
easy win. Granted, the Gators SHOULD have one, but I never thought it
would be an easy win or blow out. Sometimes I hate it when I am right
because the Cardinals came out to play and they beat the Gators in New
Orleans. Charlie Strong has done a great job since taking over as
head coach of the Cardinals, and they are expected to have a big 2013.
It is entirely possible that they go undefeated and in contention for
a National Championship. Even though the Wildcats put up 373 yards of
offense in this annual rivalry last season, they allowed 466 yards of
Cardinal offense with two turnovers to just add to the misery. This
game will likely kick start the Bridgewater Heisman campaign as he
will probably have a big big day. Cards by 21.
9/21 OPEN DATE
Kentucky is one of four SEC-East teams that were provided the absolute
gift of having an off week prior to facing THE FLORIDA GATORS. Since
2008, Florida has consistently won this match up by an average margin
of 38 points per game. In 2012, Florida had nearly double the number
of yards, first downs, and triple the number of successful 3rd down
conversions. This was with a Gator offense that was not exactly
moving on all cylinders. Driskel is in his second year under
Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease offense, Joker Phillips is in town
coaching up the wide receivers, and the Gators put a particular focus
on receivers during the latest recruiting cycle. Mark Stoops is a
fantastic defensive mind and is more than likely to find a way to
interrupt whatever the Gators want to throw at them, but overall, the
Gators have way too much depth, talent and experience for the Kitties.
Gators by 27.
10/5 @South Carolina
Steve Spurrier, THE OLE BALL COACH and Gator Great, is 18-1 all time
vs. Kentucky. That one loss occurring in 2010 by a total of 3 points.
Since then, the Gamecocks have won by an average margin of 36 points
over the Wildkitties. Jadaveon Clowney is going to get his fill of
some Wildkitty QB too, though I think the Wildkitty defense may start
finding its way some under Head Kitty Stoops. Gamecocks by 17.
Really not going to bother going in depth about this match up because
its not even going to be any sort of close and may be basically over
by halftime. Tide by 20 (and that’s if Kentucky finds the end zone..
or even the 50 yard line)..
10/19 OPEN DATE
10/26 @Mississippi State
Before Stoops and his Wildcats have cowbells ringing in their ears as
they visit Starkville for a cat and dog fight, the Bullmutts will have
faced Oklahoma State, Alcorn State, @Auburn, Troy, LSU, Bowling Green
and likely 5-2. In 2012, Miss State doubled up on the Wildcats in
just about every statistical category except for the number of 3rd
down conversions attempted and 2 turnovers. In 2013, like in most
cases with Kentucky’s foes, Miss State is deeper and more experienced,
but I think the Wildcats still find a way to stay in this game.
Mutthounds by 10.
11/2 Alabama State
Stoops and his WildKitties really really
realllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllly need one in the W column right
now. By this point in the season they are probably statistically
improved, but not enough to translate into wins but Stoops has to give
them something to have hope for a better future. There is no better
way to accomplish that than with a big win over a very inferior
opponent even by Kentucky’s standards. Wildcats by 32.
In 2012, both Mizzou and Kentucky were looking for a SEC win. Both
teams have made some if not significant and drastic coaching changes.
Assuming Mizzou can stay healthy in 2013, they once again have more
overall talent than Kentucky. Stoops by this point in the season is
probably starting to get legs under what he wants to do defensively
and finds ways to give Mizzou fits. Unfortunately, it won’t be
enough. Tigers by 17.
Three SEC opponents left on the Wildcat schedule and no wins to show
for it. They are likely getting desperate to make a showing in the
SEC. In 2012, Unfortunately, they have to face the new darling of the
SEC who shut them out 40-0. By the time Vandy welcomes Kentucky to
Nashville for the annual conference meeting, the Commodores are still
in the hunt for bowl eligibility. On paper, these two teams match up
very well, but Vandy is well familiar with the personnel and Xs and Os
in place. Kentucky makes it interesting for Vandy for a while, but
the Commodores pull away in the second half of the 4th quarter.
Commodores by 10.
Kentucky is to the Leghumpers as those teams from Mississippi are to
THE FLORIDA GATORS. They have had the Slobberhounds number here the
last 5 years. UGAly is 4-1 vs. the Wildcats and the winner of this
divisional contest has won by a margin of 7.6 points. Overall, this is
probably the best game Kentucky played all year. This very well may
be close again this year, but overall, while the Mutts have their own
holes, they are so much better offensively than the Wildcats are
defensively. Leghumpers by 20.
The Vawls managed one SEC win in 2012 with 457 yards of offense
accounting for 4 touchdowns in a 37-17 win. Unfortunately, that was
at the cost of the Kentucky Wildcats and sent them winless in SEC
play. Kentucky had their fair share of offense accounting for 412
yards themselves. Tennessee is not really having that much better of
a season than the Wildcats in 2013, and both are looking to prove they
are better this season than last. Neither will likely succeed, but
Tennessee has the tools to win this game. Hillbillies by 17.
2-8 is not exactly the big splashy improvement that the WildKitty
Nation was looking for and some expecting. More importantly, as ESPNs
Tom Luginbill points out, Mark Stoops really needed to have something
good happen to continue the extremely good momentum he has on the
recruiting trail. Stoops will continue to get a few good players,
but you have to suspect this will impact his efforts on the recruiting
trail. Wildcat fans need to look beyond the scoreboard and look what
happens on the field. There is likely where they are going to see the
improvement and they will be the catalyst to continue the little surge
they have started. Eventually, it will pay off, and eventually, they
will see unexpected wins like they had vs. LSU in 2007. Such success
should only continue to pay off.