“Stay with us.” That is the message to Big Blue Nation from UK senior defensive lineman Collins Ukwu. When asked what he would want to tell UK fans during SEC Media Days, Ukwu continued: “At some point this season, we’re going to make you happy. And it all starts with the Louisville game. We feel like that’s a tempo-setter for us this season.”
At some point this season (hopefully more than one or two times), Collins Ukwu promises that UK football is going to make you very happy. Maybe it will make you happy because you’ll realize that basketball is just around the corner, or maybe the tailgating at Commonwealth Stadium will make you happy. Despite the disappointing overall outcome of last season, you’re lying to yourself if you weren’t very happy after that Tennessee win Remember when UK football used to make everyone happy Seriously, even before Coach Brooks started the bowl streak, we enjoyed football season much more than we do now, even when three or four wins were the norm. The taste of success we enjoyed from 2006-2010 has now raised our expectations for the football team by quite a bit. Raising expectations is a good thing, but let’s remember where we’ve come from and try to enjoy this upcoming season.
I do think that Ukwu is right. There are good moments awaiting us this football season, but the question is when will they come? Here are some of my picks:
Sept 2nd at Louisville: After an entire off-season of L-raising by Card fans, guaranteeing undefeated seasons by Card players, and premature creations of Charlie Strong Maker’s Mark bottles, could you imagine how sweet this win could be? I cannot remember any off-season where there has been more trash talk around this game and it being so one sided, especially when it is so
unwarranted (yes Louisville, we know you beat us by 7 points last year for the first time since 2006). The Cards have a lot coming back from a bowl team a year ago, but let’s not get carried away about a 7-6 Big East team from a year ago. Kentucky can win this game, and after all of the talk we’ve listened to this summer, it would rank up there among some of the most enjoyable UK football wins ever against Louisville.
Sept 22nd at Florida: The Gators are the only major losing streak remaining that the Cats haven’t taken care of, and it’s absolutely not an impossible game to win for Kentucky. UF is coming off of a 7-6 (3-5 SEC) season and Kentucky-killer Chris Rainey is gone. It will be tough to go and win down in Gainesville, even if talent is down at Florida, but expect the Cats to at least come close enough to give us hope at several moments throughout the game. If the Cats make a game of it, you’ll smile a few times and be glad that you watched.
October 27th at Missouri: If you make the trip, you’ll be happy you did just because it’s a new and fun place to visit. Columbia, MO is home to great barbecue and St. Louis can be a fun pit-stop on your way there. According to the Columbia Daily Tribune, a downtown Columbia party zone named “Tiger Town” will open up this football season:
The latest Tiger Town ideas include beer tents on streets closed to the public, parties on the top floors of parking garages and open alcohol containers allowed downtown. The environment aims to better align with traditions found in the Southeastern Conference, the conference MU will call home next fall.
Need I say more?? Whatever the outcome of the game on the field, the Missouri game will likely make you happy if you decide to make the trip.
November 24th at Tennessee: However ugly the season may turn out, UK fans can walk into Neyland Stadium with their chests out and heads up high for the first time in over 26 years with a chance to make it two wins in a row over the Vols. Now that the streak is finally over, hopefully players will go into the game with a new-found confidence and limit the silly mistakes that have plagued the Cats for so many years in losses to Tennessee. Like Florida, UT is not the same UT anymore, and Kentucky can beat the Volunteers again this year. Given all the circumstances of last year’s improbable win with a wide receiver playing quarterback, you have to feel good about UK’s chances while playing an actual quarterback this season. A second win in a row over the Vols, this time in Neyland Stadium, would certainly be something to be happy about.
In addition to these four road games, the home games against Kent State, Western Kentucky, and Samford should bring us W’s to Commonwealth Stadium this fall. A good showing by the Cats in these games resulting in wins, and combined with a fun day of tailgating, should provide at least three more happy days for UK fans this football season. Also, there’s at least one game each season where they introduce the basketball team on the field during a time-out or in-between quarters. That will definitely make you happy. The new three and four game ticket packages are affordable, football season is fun, and in all seriousness, these players deserve your support. Some of the most happy moments in sports come when triumph is least expected, like last year’s win over Tennessee. I’m not asking you to think that everything is well and dandy with the football program, but the season can still give us moments to enjoy. Support these guys and they will give you more than a few things to be happy about, or you can just be grumpy until basketball season starts.