On Saturday evening, the University of Kentucky football team, newly minted at #17 in the polls, hosts South Carolina with a chance to move to 5-0 on the 2018 season. A win over the Gamecocks would put the Wildcats at a near historic 3-0 in the SEC, something the Big Blue Nation hasn’t seen in a long, long (more than 40 years) time. With junior RB Benny Snell getting Heisman Trophy consideration (551 rushing yards, 7 TDs and a whopping 6.2 yards) and Josh Allen on the defensive side of the ball, Kentucky looks poised to take the next step toward challenging for the SEC East title.
Head Coach Mark Stoops is finally reaping the rewards of the hard work he and his staff have put into the Kentucky Football program. The facilities are now top notch. The depth all over the field is evident. The addition of talent like Snell, Allen, Mike Edwards and Terry Wilson has arguably made the Wildcats the second best team in the SEC. South Carolina did finish second to Georgia in 2017, but over the past two seasons, the only East division team to beat Kentucky has been the Georgia Bulldogs. In fact, the Wildcats have won 4 straight over the Gamecocks.
The stakes for Saturday’s game is different for Stoops and his Wildcats. For the past 5 seasons, Mark Stoops has been coaching multiple one game “biggest game of his career” games. The BBN has been waiting for him to deliver on his promises, to finish games and seasons strong. Now, with back-to-back 7-win seasons/bowl appearances in his back pocket, it appears that Stoops has Kentucky Football exactly where we thought he should be. Even with a loss against South Carolina, the season is not a total loss. Looking at the schedule, there are still 8 or 9 regular season wins out there for Kentucky.
But what if Kentucky wins?
What did I just watch? pic.twitter.com/I2gIgclnAO
— Shawn Smith (@gbbcountry) September 28, 2018
A win over South Carolina makes the path to 8 or 9 wins a lot easier. Not to get ahead of ourselves, obviously, there’s still a lot of football to be played. At 5-0, one win short of bowl eligibility, at the end of September, Kentucky Football is entering unchartered territory. Despite ESPN’s GameDay crew consistently picking against them and former coach/current TV talking head Lou Holtz somehow believing Kentucky has only defeated South Carolina once in 20 years, Kentucky is winning on the field and doing it the way Coach Stoops wants: with a punishing running game and with a powerful, hard-hitting defense. Both of those things travel well and work well at home too. It isn’t just the fact the Cats have defeated Florida and Mississippi State this year, it’s the how.
This is a great time for Kentucky Football. There is a cautious optimism within the Big Blue Nation. The Cats still have a lot to prove, but it’s Brave New World for these Wildcats.
*My prediction: Cats by a touchdown. Celebrate 5-0!