The University of Kentucky football team is currently 5-1 with a trip to Starkville, MS to take on the Mississippi State Bulldogs. The Wildcats have posted this record through 6 games only five times since 1951. Currently, the 2017 Wildcats sit all alone in second place in the SEC’s eastern division. Right now, these Wildcats are looking at the chance for an historic campaign. These Wildcats could conceivably win 8 or 9 games this season, a rarity for Kentucky. And what are some of the Big Blue Nation focused on? The Cats’ 28-27 loss to the Florida Gators on September 23.
Yes, the loss was the 30th straight to Florida. And I’m not sure a Hollywood screenwriter could have come up with a more painful last 6 minutes of the game. Letting the Gators score on not one, but two possessions with a completely uncovered receiver sting. I get that. It hurts, mostly because it felt like Kentucky lost the game more than Florida won it. It stings because the Cats were clearly better. I understand all that. Still, the game, no matter the outcome, is just one of 12 regular season games the Cats play this year. The BBN has to let it go.
Last season, the Wildcats got off to a dreadful 0-2 start, losing to Southern Miss and Florida. As we all know, Stephen Johnson stepped in and led the Cats to a bowl berth, a 4-4 SEC record (the first .500 or better conference record in nearly 30 years) and a win over rival Louisville on the road as a 28 point underdog against the Heisman Trophy winner. Yet, despite what most people think of when it comes to the 2016 season is the loss to So. Miss. The proverbial “one that got away.” And we get involved in playing the what if game. What if the Cats had defeated the Golden Eagles? The loss in the first game of the season seemingly overshadowed everything that came after it. Why?
A year later, the Cats have an opportunity to take another step forward in building the program. With 5 wins in hand, another bowl invite is nearly inevitable. There are winnable games remaining on the schedule: Miss St, Vandy, Ole Miss. Rivals Tennessee and Louisville both have to come to Kroger Field and both teams’ current editions aren’t nearly as fearsome as they have been. It’s possible that Kentucky could win 4-5 of those games. Are we, BBN, prepared to let one game put a damper on what could maybe, possibly, hopefully, be an 8, 9 or (and this is crazy talk) 10 win season? I’m not.
No matter what happens the rest of the way, Kentucky isn’t going to defeat Florida. Nothing will change that. That’s not how this works. Every team, even Alabama, drops regular season football games, games that they probably should have won. It happens. Do you think Bama fans remember a regular season loss to Ole Miss or the National Title that happened a few months later? Yes, the Florida loss hurts, but these Wildcats have bigger goals that they are trying to achieve. Head Coach Mark Stoops, his staff, and the players haven’t let the loss to Florida dampen their drive on the field and neither should the fans. When it comes to that heartbreaker against the Gators: Let it go.