Kentucky has won seven regular season games in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2006-07. To find another streak of seven-plus regular season wins, you’d have to go all the way back to 1976-77. Despite Kentucky’s regular season success under Mark Stoops, there is still an underlying feeling of discontent, but why?
Many will say, ‘Stoops can’t win the big ones,’ while completely overlooking a rivalry victory on the road over a Heisman Trophy winner as 27-point underdogs. If you’re still mad about last year’s Florida game, I get it, but does that mean you’re still mad about the losses to Florida in 2014, Tennessee in 2009, Miss. State in 2007 and Florida in 2002? At this point, every UK football fan should know how to endure and move on from a bad loss.
Maybe the disgruntled portion of the fan base agrees with one KSR commenter’s “unpopular” opinion: Kentucky has been good, but they can’t win a bowl game. It begs the question, does winning bowl games matter?
We all can agree that playing postseason football is important. Bowls provide a month of practice for developing underclassmen, they put the program on a national stage and they reward fans and players for an exceptional regular season. Outside of that, winning an exhibition game should not matter.
Obviously, Kentucky fans want their team to win every time they play. If the Cats return to the Outback or Peach Bowls, a win could catapult the program to new heights, but does anyone care that Kentucky’s trophy case does not boast a BBVA Compass Bowl trophy?
The biggest differences between the beloved Rich Brooks and Mark Stoops are bowl victories. It matters to fans that Kentucky beat programs like Clemson and Florida State, even though the Bowdens were on their last leg for each team and Florida State suspended half their players prior to the game. Stoops’ team faced a triple option offense and a nine-win Northwestern team without his All-SEC running back.
I was bummed Kentucky could not keep the momentum rolling from the Louisville victory into the TaxSlayer Bowl. I wanted Stephen Johnson to win his last game as a Kentucky Wildcat. Still, I don’t care that Kentucky lost back-to-back bowl games. It’s an exhibition game. It doesn’t matter. But does it matter to you?