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Saturday is yet another must-win game for Mark Stoops

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.

Win it by a lot and everybody’s smiling again.

Go Cats.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

56 responses to “Saturday is yet another must-win game for Mark Stoops”

  1. JPGott2

    Drew, those are exactly my thoughts. If we lose a 3rd time to a team we should beat, especially with Georgia looming, the season is over for many.

  2. Smyrna_Cat

    How can every game be a MUST game??

    1. runningunnin.454

      At this point, because we’ve dropped a couple that we should have won. Personally I don’t care if we beat VU and UL by just one point…a win is a win.
      I would like to play UG tough…SCar did.

    2. notFromhere

      Smyrna Cat, I hear ya. they’re football deficient and choose to stay that way.

  3. original slappy

    How can we expect them to blow anyone out? Especially on the road? Barely beat Eastern Michigan and EKU at home. I’ll honestly be surprised if they win at all Saturday. Tough to have faith in a team (coaching staff) that hasn’t learned how to avoid shooting themselves in the foot.

  4. JPGott2

    Because we dropped the games to bad Florida and Oles Miss teams. Vandy is not good, and going into a game against #1 Georgia the following week, UK needs to win this to avoid a 3 game slide going into the UL game.

  5. haroldhanson

    I’m really glad we’re at this point where each game has been competitive. I couldn’t be more proud to be a UK football fan. We have been getting better consistently each year. Beat Vandy!

    1. notFromhere

      Same here! It’s moving forward, no mistaking it.

    2. TBW3011

      A little. Not nearly as much as opponents have moved backwards though.

    3. AGSlater

      We still stink. 6 wins vs the worst schedule ever

    4. My Dixie Wrecked

      How can you say, with a straight face, after looking at our schedule, that Kentucky has gotten better?

    5. notFromhere

      They lost almost every close game like this for decades. Did you watch football then? They’ve been in every game but one with a chance to win at the end. How many seasons has it been that way? ..and without the level of recruiting other schools have done in our conference.

    6. haroldhanson

      I can say this because I can’t remember a time of being so excited for the players we have. Believe it or not, our attitude as a fanbase has an affect on the game. And this “only being a fan when we win” attitude is part of the reason we are still struggling. Coming out only for the big games and then wondering why we fold under the pressure. It’s because we never come out for the little games. I’m excited. This is good football. We aren’t Alabama, we aren’t LSU. But we aren’t the bottom of the barrel anymore and I can only see us going forward with the recruits we’re getting. That’s why I can say this with a straight face.,

  6. IAmTheDanger

    Wow, we have been deprived of quality football for so long, I think we have forgotten what it looks like. I’ll give you a hint though, this isn’t it.

  7. AGSlater

    Its come down to a must win to Vanderbilt. Worst part is they are going to get their lone sec win of year saturday.

    1. ClutchCargo

      Thank you for that little glimpse into the future, Nostradumbass.

  8. ukkatzfan

    Haters gonna hate. If you are a fan, you are a fan. If you aren’t a fan, you never were. Go Stoops !!! Go UK Football !!! Go Big Blue !!!

    1. notFromhere

      Nailed it

    2. AGSlater

      Haha. Stoops poops

  9. Willis talkin bout....

    Neither side of the football fan base is wrong. The supporters can look at the record book and be happy about a winning record and being Bowling in Oct and they are right to feel that way. However the fans that look at this season as more of the same old “UK Football” are also right. It is the manner in which we have lost, and even the way we have won. The UF game was unforgivable, and we tried our best to give UT the game. Didn’t even show up against either Mississippi team. Until these coaches can field an even average Defense. This will always be the results. UK Football fans are MORE than ready to take the next step. Hopefully soon the team will be to. But this season has shown all of us. This is not a complete team. Still not even an average SEC team. And Stoops takes even more flak because he is top 25 in salary, a supposed defensive coach. And the Defense has been sub-par his entire tenure.

    1. notFromhere

      If some UK football “fans” continue to go off the deep end EVERY time they lose, they aren’t ready for the next step. If they continually berate the best staff to be here since Brooks’ (whom they also berated and wanted fired) and make his job harder in so doing, then they aren’t ready do take the next step.

      UK has consistently been just outside of the top 25 this year, even with better recruiting classes that have still been no better than 11th in the SEC most years. He is doing fine and progressing. So is the team. If you can’t understand that he’s likely a top 25 coach given that, and you might not ever, so you’re not ready

  10. abobicesaevior

    Certainly not a “must win” game and I dispute the notion that this is the easiest schedule will ever face. You do know we will likely be facing at least three first year head coaches next season, right?

    1. ClutchCargo

      Any conference game that you legitimately have a shot to win is a must win game if you want to climb the ladder in the SEC. And I think it’s a little early to be looking ahead to what we think will happen next year. Let’s jump off that bridge when we get to it. 🙂

    2. AGSlater

      Gtfo of here.
      Southern Miss 5-4 Terrible
      Eastern KY 3-6 Terrible
      South Carolina 6-3 Mediocre
      Florida 3-5 Maybe worst season in 20+ years
      Eastern Michigan 3-7 Terrible
      Missouri 4-5 1 conference win
      Miss St 7-2 Good
      Tenn 4-5 Terrible
      Ole Miss 4-5 Terrible
      Vandy 4-5 Terrible
      Georgia 9-0 very good
      Louisville 5-4 mediocre

      If you think our schedule is gonna get any easier your crazy.

    3. abobicesaevior

      Thank you, Nostradumbass. #41-38

    4. abobicesaevior



    I hope I’m wrong, but I have a feeling this game will be over early. It has all the makings of a “trap” game and so far Stoops poops the bed in this type of game. I have all the faith in the world in the players, but coaching will be our demise.

    1. Guinniemen

      Agreed 100% stoops is a couple coordinators away from really being able to take this team to whole new levels we haven’t seen in along Time. Stoops really needs to take the defense over and the secondary. To me our talent is up there and shouldn’t have lost the games we lost esp getting blown out by miss state.

  12. jaws2

    It’s another sad day for us when Vandy is a MUST win. What’s more pathetic is Vandy is favored to win! I think it’s wishful thinking to believe we’re going to beat any team by a large.margin. We may score a lot of points, but I can’t see Vandy not scoring many as well.

  13. RackEmWillie

    A must win game in year 5 against Vandy? Now, that’s some real progress right there.

    1. AGSlater


  14. inside info2

    What a year to be proud of.

    We have regressed. We have supposedly increased our talent each year under Stoops ( really Coach Morrow). But the last 2 years have been the WORST years for the SEC in football I have seen, and we still can’t make headway.

    Had trouble against Southern Miss and almost lost
    Had trouble with and couldn’t stomp EKU
    Could not beat a terrible UF team (for two years in a row)
    BARELY beat Eastern Michigan
    Got trampled by a good Miss St team
    BARELY beat a terrible UT team
    Got beat by a terrible Ole Miss team

    The coaching is the problem. Stoops may have been a great DC, but he is not a good HC. He is making the same mistakes he made in Year One. That is not acceptable. We supposedly have better talent on the field but the coaches can’t do anything with it.

    1. IAmTheDanger

      Completely agree….so what’s the over / under on how many Homer Simpson “DOHHHH” moments Stoops has on Saturday?

  15. ClutchCargo

    I will admit that I don’t feel anything close to confident about this game. Probably because it’s Vandy, who always fights tooth and nail to beat the one program that they truly believe they can and should beat. This is a must win game for both teams.

  16. farmy75

    Unfortunately the negative nellies will be out en force either way, if you lose it’s just more fuel for their unchangeable mindset, if they win handily they’re angry about not performing like that earlier in the season in the two close loses.

    1. ClutchCargo

      I will gladly tolerate the latter, though.

    2. notFromhere

      Nailed it. Pissed if their bourbon bottle is empty, moaning if they had too much, and nothing in between but btchn

  17. Marcus Areolas

    It’s not a good matchup for Kentucky. Vandy has a good QB and great run defense. Kentucky has a terrible defensive backfield and little pass offense. Not saying UK can’t win, but this is a 50/50 game.

    1. notFromhere

      It’s not a good matchup for UK. Damn right. It will be a tougher game to win than Ole Miss, who was also a bad matchup for UK. Georgia is a better matchup than Vandy for us.

    2. Marcus Areolas

      I agree, i think UK will not get rolled by Georgia. I’m not saying the Cats win, but i don’t think it will be a Miss. St. beatdown.

  18. ukkatzfan

    Vandy is a must win because a KSR basketball reporter says it is ? Oh sh#t, calipari and basketball team is in trouble. They have to start off playing some 3rd sting mormon team just to try and squeeze out a win. If Cal can’t win this one by 100, he needs to be chased out of town. You heard it hear first from a UK football and Coach Stoops fan. #FireCal

    1. Willis talkin bout....

      really dude? They are completely different situations. If Cal couldn’t make it past the 2nd round or went to the NIT for 5 years in a row. Then maybe your comparison would have merit. Cal is competent. His system works. His assistants recruit, produce, and develop talent. Yes, it’s easier to put together a basketball team. This is Stoops 5th year. And I’ll give him a bye on the first 3 and even over look being on his 3rd OC. The Offense under Gran puts up enough points to win regardless of what fans say about play calling. The Defense is horrible and you can’t even argue its not. At the end of each season the only statistic this team is in the top 25 of is the Coach’s salary. Stoops is a PAID Head Coach not some PeeWee league coach who does it for free. It his job to evaluate his team and coaches. And take over if who he hired or their system isn’t working. And that Defense isn’t working… At all. They arent even average at any aspect of the game…

    2. AGSlater

      Katz fan would be happy at 0-10. He is absurd

    3. ClutchCargo

      AGSlater would be unhappy at 10-0. He is absurd.

  19. lex cath

    UK the 6A school playing 1A schedule and barely getting by

  20. Ty
  21. notFromhere

    Must win ..blah,blah,blah… backs against the wall.. blah,blah,blah… entire season is lost… blah,blah,blah… disappointment .. blah,blah,blah….

    Can y’all come up with something original at.all? Freaking same story every damn week. It’s no more a must-win than it was before the season started, when we were seen to be fortunate if we could get back to a bowl game.

    To all the idiots that think the SEC is 1A, step one foot out on that field. You have no clue and no soul. To those that are even more foolish to think UK is the 6A at this point compared to the rest of the conference, there’s no hope for you.

    You should do some reading. Look up Saban at LSU and the times he lost to UK. The mistakes he made early in his career… You have a coach right now that may become a great coach. Don’t run him off as you have others with all of your incessant btchn and moaning

    1. UKfanman01

      Yeah like who would complain after 2 blown coverages against Florida when the wide open reciever was jumping up and down in front of the UK coaching staff signaling that he’s not being covered? Great coaching by Stoops and House. Not once, but twice in the same game

    2. chris gettelfinger is not walking through that door

      NFH, I don’t disagree with all of that, but Nick Saban never lost to UK. He came close twice, but he never lost. You’re probably thinking of the Gerry Dinardo years.

    3. notFromhere

      Thanks, yeah, I was thinking of the Les Miles team and DiNardos teams. Appreciate the correction.

  22. notFromhere

    The last game was a down game for a young team after beating UT. This game should be an UP game but they’re playing a team they don’t match up well against. They can win this game, but will have to play very well to do so. Vandy always plays better against UK. This will likely be an ugly game, but there is the potential for UK to put together a complete game

  23. secrick

    Get us to a bowl game and get us to the final 8 and i’m happy. Sorry just don’t have as high expectations as some of you and don’t give a crap if you like it or not. GO CATS.

  24. TBW3011

    Must win or what? Must win or he has to wait until the next shitbird we can beat to get another extension?

  25. My Dixie Wrecked

    I thought the SEC was talking about playing tougher out of conference games?

  26. Rabbi Li

    As a 40 year survivor of the deep in the trenches Kentucky Football experience…

    1. We can run the ball on SEC teams. That isn’t a fluke. 2 seasons in a row. It’s not just Benny either (although… thank you Benny). We have a line, we have talented RB’s in line (King, Rose, Koback, & Bowen out of Wildcat).

    VALUE: Huge.

    I like enough of what Eddie Gran does when the offense works to want to keep him. Yet his continued decisions to bury the playbook and go full blown conservative to keep a lead is a losing strategy in the SEC. It’s a loser Eddie.

    How do I know Eddie? I’ve been watching people try it for 40 years. If you have an offense keep the defense on their heels and aim for victory. SEC teams will score.

    Having a balance offense (which the running game we have allows) naturally ‘manages clock time.’ Confidently maintaining a scoring mentality until horn blows is essential.

    2. Don’t go full retard Eddie.

    1. justgettingstartedbro

      I’m offended by your use of the word retard