It’s kind of hard to believe that only 6 months and a handful of days remain between now and the year 2014. Time flies when you’re experiencing a tumultuous basketball season, Stoops burning up the recruiting trail, and Cal assembling the greatest recruiting class in basketball history. Yes, 2013 has had it’s peaks and valleys but those first half of the year events led to the revenge tour being organized, the most excited football fanbase in 20 years, and a preseason number one ranking. The schedule is out and the remaining games to be played in 2013 offer plenty to be excited about. But which games are the biggest? Here are my power rankings of the top ten games to be played this year:
10. Robert Morris, November 17th
The revenge tour will officially begin on November 17th when justice is served to the college formerly known as the Pittsburg school of Accountancy. The Colonials managed to steal a victory while UK had thrown in the towel on a disappointing season. A move like that deserves a terrible blowout on the floor of Rupp. I think the Cats will have no problem delivering on that.
9. Vanderbilt, November 16th
Who would have ever though Kentucky would ever be trying to follow the Vanderbilt football model for building a program? In recent years Vandy has gone from doormat to having one of the hottest coaches in America, some brilliant marketing techniques, and trying to steal some marquee wins in the SEC. Last year the ‘dores proved that approach was working with a 40 point shutout that spelled the end of Joker. This game can show just how far the football team has come in just one year under Stoops.
8. Missouri, November 9th
Much like the Vandy and Tennessee games Missouri offers a chance to see a benchmark of the progress made on the field. Missouri is an opponent that Kentucky should be able to surpass. The game on November 9th will tell us if they can surpass the Tigers this season or if it will have to wait one more year.
7. Louisville, September 14th
The Cats, who went 2-10 last season, could very well be the toughest game on the Cards schedule next season. Which means Kentucky could be the only team that can keep UofL from going undefeated and from a possible spot in the National Championship game. It’s a tough task for a Kentucky team Stoops and Co. are hard at work to build into a contender. The Cards will come to Lexington ranked in the top ten with their quarterback a Heisman favorite. Could a repeat of 2007 be in the cards?
6. Baylor, December 6th
The revenge tour keeps rolling along when UK heads to the Dallas Palace to take on Baylor. Last year the Bears brought Cal’s undefeated home streak to an end. Now the rebulit Cats will head to the site of the Final Four to scout the location of the place where banner nine will be won. To top it all off the ladies will be joining in for a double header. Pretty hard to pass up on this trip to Jerryworld.
5. Tennessee, November 30th
If there is any hope of going to a bowl game in Stoops’ first year on campus then more than likely they will need to beat Tennessee. If a bowl is out of the question then this win could have major ramifications on the future of recruiting by ending the season on an upbeat. Plus after getting the first win of my lifetime a couple of years ago I’m ready to see the Cats start building a streak of their own.
4. North Carolina, December 14th
After that one year hiatus it’s nice to see the Tarheels back on the table. UNC will provide the Cats with their first true road game and it will be interesting to see how the young squad will react. This year’s game will feature more McDonalds Americans on one court than any other basketball game in the sport’s history (except perhaps the last time the two teams met). If the Cats are still perfect after this one then it’s time to start some serious talk of going undefeated.
3. Michigan State, November 12th
The Cats sure got a tough draw for the champions classic. First they had to take on eventual National Runner-Up Kansas. Then they had to play a top 5 team in Duke. Now they will have to head to Chicago to square off against preseason #3 Michigan State and their experience loaded team. The game will be a major roadblock toward 40-0 as it will only be the third game of the year for the young Cats. Cal has always said he’ll take talent over experience any day, this game will provide a nice test for that philosophy.
2. WKU, August 31st
Last fall it seemed like this year’s game against Western would draw an abysmal crowd. My how things can change. Not only is the revenge factor there for the trick play upset that unfolded in Commonwealth last year but the game will also be the debut of the Stoops era. Oh yeah, it also happens to take place in BBN favorite city Nashville. Western also will be led by a new coach as well, some guy name Bobby Petrino. The first game of the year is possibly the most important game of the season for UK and will make for one epic Labor Day weekend no matter the outcome.
1. Louisville, December 28th
The game which has been called the most anticipated game in the history of Rupp Arena is without question the biggest game of the year. When the Cats meet the Cards the game is always huge but this year’s game is a show-stopper. Not only is the game a match-up of the last two national champions but it will also be a meeting of the preseason top two teams in the nation. On paper this battle looks like one for the ages and will be a perfect way to bring 2013 to a close.
So those are my picks for the 10 biggest games of the remainder of the 2013 athletics year. Anything I missed? Let me know in the comments or on twitter: @ACassady_KSR