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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: History Shows Big 1st Game Win Could Lead to Bowl

It’s just one game, right?  The first game of the season is just as important as the 3rd game or the 7th game or the last game.  Or at least that is what some fans would love to tell you.  I have always argued the first game is the most important, no matter who the opponent, because it not only has an affect on the confidence of the team and coaches, but also greatly affects the attitude of the fans.  In the years when Louisville was trouncing UK in that first game of the season, you don’t think some fans had already given up on the season after Week 1?

But, does the outcome of the first game actually have a tangible correlation to the outcome of the entire season.  Below, I have each opening week game since 1990 divided up in 4 groups: Big Losses, Small Losses, Small Wins, and Big Wins.  I decided that any win or loss by MORE THAN 14 POINTS was considered big.  Games in bold are seasons where Kentucky made a bowl game.

BIG LOSSES (MORE THAN 14 POINTS)
2012: Louisville 32-14 (finished 2-10)
2006: Louisville 28-59 (finished 8-5)
2004: Louisville 0-28 (finished 2-9)
2003: Louisville 24-40 (finished 4-8)
2001: Louisville 10-36 (finished 2-9)
1999: Louisville 28-56 (finished 6-6)
1996: Louisville 14-38 (finished 4-7)

SMALL LOSSES
2005: Louisville 24-31 (finished 3-8)
2000: Louisville 34-40 (finished 2-9)
1995: Louisville 10-13 (finished 4-7)

SMALL WINS
2011: Western Kentucky 14-3 (finished 5-7)
2010: Louisville 23-16 (finished 6-7)
2002: Louisville 22-17 (finished 7-5)
1997: Louisville 38-24 (finished 5-6)
1994: Louisville 20-14 (finished 1-10)
1992: Central Michigan 21-14 (finished 4-7)
1991: Miami (OH) 23-20 (finished 3-8)
1990: Central Michigan 20-17 (finished 4-7)

BIG WINS (MORE THAN 14 POINTS)
2009: Miami (OH) 42-0 (finished 7-6)
2008: Louisville 27-2 (finished 7-6)
2007: Eastern Kentucky 50-10 (finished 8-5)
1998: Louisville 68-34 (finished 7-5)
1993: Kent State 35-0 (finished 6-6)

Kentucky has made 8 bowl games since 1990.  In 5 of those 8 years, they won their opening game by more than 14 points.  UK has not missed a bowl game after winning the opener by more than 14 points.  While 6 out of the 7 times they WON the opening game by less than 14 points, they have also missed a bowl.  And in only 3 out of 16 seasons where they lost their opening game or won it by less than 14 points have they made a bowl.

Point is, win big in week 1 and you almost surely will win “big” the rest of the season.  Keep that in mind going into the WKU game.

Article written by Bryan the Intern

22 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: History Shows Big 1st Game Win Could Lead to Bowl



  1. tltaworl
    9:10 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    In other statistics related news, when we are good enough to win a game by a decent margin, we are good enough to win other games and therefore have a better chance of getting to a post season bowl game.



  2. Joe Statistian
    9:10 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Please post a scatter plot with the x-axis being point differential from the first game and the y-axis being the win percentage for the year. Both variables are continuous. Then, right-click of the data, select ‘fit trendline’ and show the R^2. This would be the way to quantify any relationship that exists being first game performance and season performance.



  3. Living on the frontier
    9:23 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    You ever play roulette?
    Every spin is not related to any other spin regarding the number that will come up.
    Live in the present!
    Fan day tonight, enjoy!



  4. jcatron
    9:24 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    2) I do love a good regression model.



  5. LOL
    9:24 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    You need to retake remedial statistics. This post is DUMB!



  6. bung
    9:26 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    uhh…what 2 said…



  7. jjk
    9:34 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Even if this team were to beat Western by 30, they are still not making a bowl game.



  8. tyrus
    9:35 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    We need to and I think many are seeing it this way that while bowl games are fun, progress for the UK Football team means beating SEC teams. The football program has been to several bowl games of late and that’s all fine and dandy. The definition of progress now needs to be consistently beating SEC teams. Beat SEC teams and everything else falls into place.



  9. jcatron
    9:41 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    8) That first sentence needs help!



  10. JoshB5
    9:49 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Jeremy Crabtree just did a breakdown of surprise football recruiting classes over on ESPN and gave Mark Stoops some love Go Big Blue!!!!!!!!!!



  11. Musehobo
    10:01 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    As #1 stated, cause and effect are more important here. A little logic will let you know that having a really good team allows you win big in the first game, and creates a potential for bowl games. You don’t make bowl games because you win the first game big, you do it because the team, itself, is good. So it may be an indicator more than a factor.



  12. cracka
    10:19 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    if only Joe’s last name was spelled “Statistician” I might actually think he knew what he was talking about



  13. tltaworl
    10:24 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    2. Something tells me you scored higher on math than verbal.



  14. I like those odds
    10:28 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    If you win game 1, then you can go below .500 the rest of the season (5 of 11) and still go bowling! That’s easier to do than 6-5.



  15. Tim
    10:28 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Dumb post that serves no purpose



  16. Real UK Fan
    10:35 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    The folks at KSR might want to consider leaving the mathematics to the mathematicions. I fear a true statistical analysis of any situation is more than the intellectual level of the KSR personnel will allow.



  17. JaredCarterIsMyHomeboy
    10:49 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Tyler still doesn’t have the video up. GET TO IT!



  18. J.A.
    11:02 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Stupid argument, the bowl seasons since 05′ we had better teams so we made a bowl, also louisville during kragthorpe era was terrible. so opening wins against eastern, miami OH, and kragthorpe’s cards aren’t what got us to bowl games. If we opened against florida tennessee in those seasons would that mean we would not have made a bowl? No.



  19. So what you're saying is...
    11:09 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    So what you’re saying is that if we have a team that can Beat Louisville by more than 14 points we have a good team?



  20. Captain obvious
    11:10 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    Good call slick



  21. Give me a racoon, please.
    11:10 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    This is exhibit one regarding the old saying about “lies, damn lies and statistics.” Clean it up, dude.



  22. Joe Statistian
    11:37 am August 9, 2013 Permalink

    RE:13. Actually, I scored a 780 out of 800 on the quantatitive section of the GRE, but only like a 500 out of the 800 on it. And yes, I am a professional statistican. Get paid north of $125K/yr, too. No joke. I was going to suggest using a logistic regression model to predict bowl liklihood, but that is beyond the audience. Maybe I can work KSR as pro bono work…. hmmmm.