It is safe to say that Kentucky’s non-conference schedule this year is likely the worst, competition wise, in school history. Akron and Western Kentucky are likely 2 of the 5 worst teams in Division 1-A this season, Louisville is likely one of the 5-7 worst teams in BCS play, and Charleston Southern is a 1-AA team. Louisville provided a little bit of competition, but the other 3 are very likely to be blowouts.
While it allows Kentucky to have a poor conference slate (2-6) and still make a bowl, it also provides little fun for the fans and allows our rivals a point of criticism when UK claims it 4 straight bowls. And it’s true that Kentucky has NOT played a non-conference team that ended with more than 7 wins since 2007. It’s a streak that is almost certain to continue this year, making it 16 straight opponents. Now, you might argue that is because the Cats play in the SEC and thus the schedule is so difficult there, they should schedule as easy as possible in non-conference. Until you realize that 5 SEC teams have at least 2 BCS teams on their schedules this year, and each of those teams play one of those games on the road or on neutral field:
Florida: South Florida and Florida State
Georgia: Georgia Tech and Colorado
Vanderbilt: Northwestern, UCONN, Wake Forest
LSU: North Carolina and West Virginia
Alabama: Penn State and Duke
So, what I need explained to me is this: If the argument is that Kentucky plays the easy non-conference because of the difficult SEC slate, then why are Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Alabama, teams that are seriously going for conference and national titles, able to schedule BCS teams out of conference?
And then you look at Vanderbilt. Vanderbilt scheduled THREE BCS non-conference teams, but ALL OF THEM are mediocre to terrible teams. Now at Vanderbilt’s level, those games will be challenging. But at Kentucky’s level, or at least the level that is advertised and proclaimed by the athletic department, beating Duke, Northwestern, and Wake Forest should be no problem. So, if I gave you a non-conference schedule with Louisville and UCONN as opposed to Louisville and Akron, which one do you want? If you think Kentucky wins both games with no problem, then why not schedule the BCS team? Now, if you think Kentucky would lose the game to the UCONN’s and Wake’s of the world, then you would obviously disagree, but I tend to buy into the program being significantly improved from 5 years ago.
And please don’t give the argument about the money. About having to schedule the home and home. Did you see the amount of empty seats last weekend against WKU? And if a school like Georgia can lose a home game to play Colorado, or Alabama can lose a home game to play Duke, then why can’t Kentucky?
I simply want the Kentucky football program to test itself. We are now at the point where it is time to see where this program stands. Schedule a second BCS team, and if it turns out the program isn’t ready for that, then go back to the weak scheduling after that. But, I am getting tired as a football fan in seeing our program hiding in the corner against weak competition when our SEC brothers are getting out there and playing tough teams. When crappy Vanderbilt can schedule BCS schools, but we cant.