The Kentucky football fan base is down right now, and rightfully so, following the Cats’ inability to handle business against an uninspired Ole Miss team with the worst defense in the SEC. Some fans are still fighting over what to blame for the loss; others have completely checked out for the season.
But for the members of Big Blue Nation who are still holding out hope for a successful 2017, there is only one option this coming Saturday: Beat Vanderbilt.
Yes, it’s the dreaded must-win game.
And even that may not be enough for some fans. Stoops’ Wildcats will need to pound Vanderbilt on the road to keep the majority of the fan base happy going into the final two games of the year. Anything short of a win and the entire season is a disappointment, given the blown opportunities for something special.
It seems lunatic to be upset by a 6-3 record in Lexington, doesn’t it? Unfortunately, that is where we are right now. The program will never see an easier schedule and it would be a shame to not take full advantage of it. A second consecutive loss to a struggling team would fall under the category of not taking advantage of the schedule. Vanderbilt lost five straight games, including a 22-point loss to Ole Miss, before beating Western Kentucky last weekend. Lose to a team with that resume and you wasted the wins at South Carolina and against Tennessee. Those will be forgotten as it’ll be hard to get up for a 6-4 team, coming off consecutive bad losses, heading to Georgia.
But if this weekend’s must-win game ends in a win, Stoops buys himself some time with the fan base for a good season. Win by a lot in Nashville and you get some of that buzz back by Sunday. A win the following weekend in Athens is still probably out of the question; however, the lost excitement will be reignited with a 7-4 team going into the season finale against Louisville. The Cardinals are way down from a year ago and this time it’s on your own turf. Win that one and you have the program’s first eight-win regular season in 33 years. Nobody can complain about that. Nobody.
Back to the present, though. You have to beat Vanderbilt. There is no other option. Kentucky football’s back is against the wall. After beating Tennessee, you can live with a 1-1 record in the Ole Miss-Vanderbilt stretch. You can’t go 0-2.
Saturday is Mark Stoops’ umpteenth must-win game of his career.
Win it by a lot and everybody’s smiling again.