What would you do if you only had one shot? One opportunity?
To borrow a bit from Eminem’s Oscar-winning song “Lose Yourself,” the University of Kentucky football team has an opportunity. With 14th ranked Mississippi State coming to town, the Wildcats have a chance to make the 2018 season really special. Sitting at 3-0 overall and 1-0 in the SEC, Kentucky is off to about as good of a start as could be expected. The Cats have comfortable wins over Central Michigan and Murray State (something that didn’t happen at all in 2017) and the win over Florida, in Gainesville, was the first victory over the Gators since 1986. While head coach Mark Stoops has current winning streaks over every SEC East team except for Georgia, the Cats are in full Show Me mode against the Bulldogs.
It’s arguable that Kentucky has been the second-best program in the SEC East over the last two seasons. Yes, South Carolina finished second last year, but the Gamecocks will bring a four game losing streak to Kroger Field in two weeks. However, the national media, SEC media folks and even a lot of people within the Big Blue Nation aren’t yet convinced that the Cats are moving up the ladder in football. Despite the last two seasons, the majority of people remain unconvinced that the Cats are improving. A win over the highly ranked Bulldogs will go a long way toward changing the perception surrounding the Wildcats.
With Benny Snell, Jr. in the backfield, Kentucky has an all SEC-caliber running back to lead its ground game. Snell has amassed 375 yards and 3 touchdowns over the first three games with a whopping 6 yards per carry average. Quarterback Terry Wilson has thrown for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns while running for 223 yards and another 2 touchdowns. Defensively, UK’s Josh Allen has been dominant with 19 total tackles on the year including 4.5 tackles for a loss, 2 sacks, 1 forced fumble and 1 pass defensed. Coach Stoops has slowly and methodically added depth to the roster and now he has dynamic playmakers on both sides of the ball.
Saturday night, the Wildcats will have the opportunity to prove just how far Coach Stoops has moved the program forward. A victory over the Bulldogs moves the Cats to 4-0 and establish Kentucky as a threat in the SEC East. After 3 games (over even 4), it would be a little early for the Big Blue Nation to make plans for the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta. What we can hopefully see is the progress that the Cats have made on the field to become a legitimate SEC-caliber football team. The chance will be there at Kroger Field for Kentucky to move up the SEC ladder, the Wildcats just need to take full advantage of the opportunity.