Credit to xkcd.
Sure it’s a matter of opinion, the season unfolds in mysterious ways, and there is no way to really tell which games will be the most important. But I don’t care, Chris Low is wrong this go around. The ESPN SEC blog has been picking out the ‘key stretch,’ for each SEC team as we head into the season, and this was Kentucky’s from earlier today.
Key stretch: Louisville (Sept. 17), Florida (Sept. 24), at LSU (Oct. 1), at South Carolina (Oct. 8 )
Breakdown: It’s easy to make the case that the first game in this stretch may be the most important one the Wildcats will play all season. Not only is Louisville a rivalry game that will have recruiting implications in the state, but it’s a game the Wildcats probably need to win if they’re going to keep alive their bowl streak. Lose that game, and those next three — all against teams that will start the season nationally ranked — become even more daunting. The Wildcats have to find a way to come out of those first six games with at least a .500 record, because finding more than two SEC wins during the season is hardly a given. The Wildcats have won a total of seven SEC games over the last three seasons.
Okay, sure, I can buy some of that. The Louisville game is huge, just as it is every year. But that’s about the only ‘key game’ in that stretch. I hate to say it, but to win any of those next three games would be shocking. Florida is vulnerable this year, but the timing isn’t great for a young Kentucky team – especially with the weight of a 24 game streak on their minds. Winning at LSU is something that few teams do, and while USC may be a winnable game, playing on the road after Florida and LSU promises to be tough. In other words, it’s not the key stretch because it won’t make or break the season.
Instead, this seasons key stretch is: Mississippi State (Oct. 29th), Ole Miss (Nov. 5th), at Vanderbilt (Nov. 12)
With a win over Louisville earlier in the season, Kentucky should be at worst 4-3 coming into this stretch. The Vandy game should be a win, so Kentucky just needs to split the Mississippi games to be bowl eligible with two games left on the schedule. If they win both (certainly a possibility for two home games,) they’re sitting at 7-3 headed to Georgia before hosting Tennessee to finish off the season. Just like years past, the Mississippi games once again could make or break the season – if Joker wants to RISE, those games are borderline must wins.