Today in the Lexington Herald Leader, John Clay and Mark Story predicted the UK season and broke down the likely outcome of year 2 of the Mike Hartline era. Clay picked the Cats to go 8-4 (the best record of the Brooks era) and Story picked them to go 6-6. Because this may have been the least newsworthy day in the UK summer, I am totally copying the idea and giving my rundown of how I predict the season to go:
The Cats start off the season in the friendly confines of Paul Brown stadium (where Andre Smith just signed apparently). Thrown off by Ochocinco’s constant yelling of “Child Please”, the Cats get off to a slow start, but slowly pick up steam throughout the day. With the vast improvement shown at the WR position and some effective play by Mike Hartline, Kentucky slowly and methodically builds a lead and ends up winning comfortably 27-10…Cats record 1-0
With the eyes of the ESPNU universe upon them, the Cats utilize another noon start to play in front of Dave Neal and Andre Ware. Louisville has shown itself to be somewhat improved in the first two weeks and they actually jump on the Cats early, taking a 10-0 lead. But then Steve Kragthorpe returns to his clueless ways, Justin Burke gets nervous playing before his hometown crowd and Trevard Lindley runs a key late touchdown back. The Cats win in the 4th quarter 24-17, in a more difficult than most fans would have expected, rivalry game. Cats record 2-0
Go ahead and prepare yourself folks….it wont be pretty. Florida comes in hot, after a trouncing of Lane Kiffin and the Vols the week before that even makes his wife consider leaving him for Phillip Fulmer. The Gators come into Lexington and do what they always do against Kentucky….score at will. Micah gets one solid shot on Tim Tebow that leaves him down for 6 seconds and the UK student section makes a host of Tim Tebow signs (buoyed on by a Kentucky Sports Radio contest) that are clever and worthy of praise. But the game itself is ugly…Florida 45-13…Cats are 2-1
The week before the game is filled with optimistic hopes from the UK message board fans, who are ready to see the Cats pull off their best chance at a big shocker in the season. After playing the Tide well the year before, the Cats come out with confidence and actually jump on the Tide early after a Chris Matthews breakaway reception early in the game. But Alabama kicks back into gear and just like the year before, wins a low scoring game in which the Cats play quite well. Alabama 17-14….Cats 2-2
at SOUTH CAROLINA
There is nothing worse for UK fans than playing Steve Spurrier…except maybe playing him on the road. The Cats come out fired up, but also tired, after two very difficult games in Commonwealth Stadium. Early on South Carolina scores and after a Hartline interception, build up a 21-0 lead. The Cats play better in the second half, but are unable to mount a real challenge, as talk goes in Columbia about a potential upset of the Gators in the coming weeks. The Cats lose 28-10…slip to 2-3.
A classic case of bad luck for the football Cats. If they got Auburn in Commonwealth this year, they win the game easily. Even if they had gotten Auburn at any other spot on the schedule, they would have had a decent chance at pulling off the road upset. But they get the Tigers in the 4th game of a brutal early four game stretch. The Cats actually play well throughout on defense, but offensively this game is very difficult to watch. Kentucky scores a special teams touchdown and has the ball late with a chance to win, but is ultimately stymied. Auburn wins 13-10 and UK fans console themselves with memories of the dunks John Wall and Eric Bledsoe threw down the night before at Midnight Madness. Cats 2-4
Smarting from their four game losing streak, UK comes out with renewed vigor and plays their best football game of the season. Louisiana Monroe is a better team than people realize, but UK fans never find that out, as the UK offense clicks for the first time in a full game. Hartline throws the ball well, Randall Cobb plays on some particular sets and Donald Russell breaks some big runs. It is a fun day in Commonwealth as Kentucky wins easily 42-10….Cats are 3-4.
The Bulldogs come into town and the coaches remind the team of two years before, when the Cats were fresh off two big wins and lost to MSU at home. Just like that game, it is raining and I am miserable. But the game goes on. UK’s defense plays its best overall game of the year, shutting down the new coaching staff at MSU. The Cats realize that this game is a key to making a bowl and they come through with a big win, highlighted by a kicking performance by Lones Seiber that makes emo fans everywhere happy. Kentucky wins 22-7…..Cats 4-4
Its party day in Lexington as Eastern comes to town and the route is on. Kentucky gets great performances by all of its players and even sees a good game by Will Fidler in his major Kentucky debut. The Cats roll and the day is highlighted by the return of the KSR White Castle contest, which sees of all people Lukask Obrzut come in second place to the guy who worked at Valvoline a few years back. Everyone celebrates the big win and John Calipari twitters about someone random he met in Louisville who runs a good company. Cats win 52-13….5-4
No one has to tell the UK fanbase how big this game is, as it represents the chance to go bowling for the fourth straight year. Kentucky fans invade Nashville in mass, tripping Vanderbilt students on the campus as they skip the game to head to the library. Kentucky jumps on Vandy early with a great Randall Cobb scamper for a touchdown. The game stays close throughout, but Kentucky makes up for the loss last year by winning 24-21. Big Blue Nation celebrates in Nashville that night, highlighted by the sight of Beisner walking into an Italian restaurant with a Rick Pitino mask and promptly being kicked out because the owner “doesnt run that kind of place”.
UK gives one of its best performances of the year between the hedges. Another case of a game that might have been better had it come earlier in the season. Georgia needs this game to get to what was once called the Citrus Bowl, and they overpower the Cats at the end with some defensive stops, that overcome a late UK rally. It is another fine performance by the UK defense, who hold the Dawgs in check, including a hit by Micah Johnson that makes Mark Richt actually show emotion on his face. Georgia 20-17……Cats 6-5
We come to the final game of the season against “I Hate” Tennessee. Everything about this game is similar to past encounters…the weather is cold, drizzly, the game is on at a strange time and fat people invade the city wearing an odd shade of Orange. Still yet, Kentucky plays a good game, with Derrick Locke running all over the new look orange, while Lane Kiffin sells fake Rolexes on the sidelines. UT still crushes UK in the band department (although the “Pride of Euclid Avenue” has shown improvement) and find a way to win in the end with something fluky, this time a personal foul penalty thrown on Rich Brooks when a juicy tomato he grew in his garden causes a Tennessee player to slip on a Randall Cobb touchdown run. The Vols win for the 300th time in a row and I refuse to answer MaconVolFan’s calls. Tennessee wins 31-28….Cats finish 6-6
The Cats get a bid to the Independence Bowl against Colorado which leads to the “never did I think this would happen in my life” moment in which I spend New Years Eve in Shreveport, Louisiana, watching football and finding the nearest casino boat. The Cats win their fourth bowl game in a row and we all celebrate by watching Drew Franklin ride the buffalo out of the stadium.
Now if that isnt a joyous season, I dont know what is. I would like to go with more wins, but I cant do it….although I remain open to being convinced. Round 4 of the Blogger contest, an update on Darnell Dodson and more coming later today. Stick around…..