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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How Important is an Impressive First Game?

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)
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
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

14 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: How Important is an Impressive First Game?



  1. tanya
    9:09 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    I don’t think the WKU game has a thing to do with it. If you call last year, WINNING BIG, we need to talk. They need to beat a Florida, or Georgia, or God forbid, TENNESSEE



  2. Buckets
    9:19 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    A big win over Louisville in the first week would be great. A “big” win over WKU in the first week doesn’t mean jack.



  3. Epps2Shep
    9:32 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    Tanya, can we let the team actually play a game before you begin running from the falling sky?



  4. Epps2Shep
    9:36 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    I’ll take a large margin of victory over any team. Any week. I’ll also take any of you front runners’ football tickets.
    “BLITZ!” “THROW IT DEEP!” “FAAAAAAR JOKER!”



  5. lexslamman
    9:38 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    Perhaps this situation is newsworthy enough to deserve a post here: http://www.kentucky.com/2011/08/30/1862265/uk-athletics-student-newspaper.html



  6. Jones Returns
    9:39 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    Interesting post, but it would be much more relevant if we were playing Louisville instead of Western in the home opener. I’d say if we don’t win this game by AT LEAST 20 points something awful is wrong.



  7. WTF
    9:40 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    BTI this “opinion” in pure nonsense! Youre posts are not on the #RISE.



  8. nashvillecatsfan
    9:40 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    Yeah, I don’t think it matters how much they win this game by. It won’t be considered a big win.



  9. Al's IndiCats
    9:42 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    Usually in all first games is just a reminder that we have a tone of games left. Against tougher foes it generally is a Barometer on how a team will play with or without a tweek here and there. With W.Kentucky, I feel we’ll have a great game if you think rolling up the score on them is great, but the three games I really want us to win is Loogyville, the GAY-Tors, and the Orange Cladded convicts of Ka-noxville. Even if we didn’t make it to a bowl game those are the three teams I would love to ruin their seasons.



  10. Epps2Shep
    9:47 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    1) 5 STRAIGHT BOWL APPEARANCES. 2) Four – soon to be FIVE – STRAIGHT wins over Louisville. 3) A coach with the balls to sit players for big games, unlike some coaches. Should count for something. 4) A staff FULL of KY lettermen and natives who want to be there. 5) The best recruiting class in UK football history. 6) A stranglehold on recruiting the Louisville area, and putting guys in the NFL.

    Pull your heads out of the sand, show up, and support your football team

    Or, shut the hell up and wait for basketball.



  11. Papaw Brooks
    10:24 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    The “Big” wins referred to are strictly based on points not quality, big name opponents. Look at the list of openers – all the schools are MAC, Sun Belt or Louisville.



  12. Jordan
    10:26 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    Correlation, sure, but the causation is backward. If you are good enough to go to a bowl game, you should win big in your first game against an easy opponent.



  13. Buckets
    10:29 am August 30, 2011 Permalink

    10 – I was simply answering the question “How Important is an Impressive First Game?” Settle down and lighten up. I think everyone would agree that a win over Western doesn’t really mean much. Unless UK only wins by a touchdown or two. Then it would mean something. Something bad.



  14. Vick
    12:35 pm August 30, 2011 Permalink

    I agree totally! I think the first game sets the tone for the whole season, especially when you’re playing a team, like WKU, that you are highly favored against! If you go out and struggle against a medicore or bad oppenent then I think that shows that either a) you’re not as good as you though you were and you’ve got a lot of work to do or b) that the team is not that focused which usually makes for a bad season because the team is not doing the things to be a good team. The players and coaches have talked a big game this summer, as always!, but if they don’t win really big, like 24 points or more, and dominate every phase of the game against a totally over matched Western team then I think we will have yet another disappionting season.