(photo via Saturday Down South)
Remember that time Kentucky beat South Carolina? UK was unranked, USC was No. 10 in the country, and a 13-point favorite. It was back in 2010 and the Cats were coming into the contest 0-3 in the SEC after starting the season 3-0 against non-conference opponents. That was the scene the last time Spurrier and his Cocks visited Lexington. The Cats beat the Gamecocks in front of 68,000, televised nationally on ESPN2 by a score of 31-28. Fans rushed the field and Tom Leach’s iconic call of, “Ding dong the streak is dead,” rang out on the airwaves.
This weekend the Old Ball Coach will return, but expectations seem even more distant than they were back then. The opening line of the game is -21.
What has happened since the last big-time Kentucky football upset, and the program’s first win against Steve Spurrier?
— Kentucky has an 8-14 overall record. A few of those eight wins are against the might powers of Charleston Southern, Central Michigan and Jacksonville State.
— Kentucky has a 3-10 SEC record. Those three SEC wins are against Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Tennessee; at the time of those games, among the three worst teams in the league.
— As a comparison, South Carolina has gone on to a 20-5 record since losing to Kentucky. Four of their five losses came to ranked teams.
— Overall, the Cats have been outscored 441-572, averaging out to a score of 20-26; less than a touchdown per game. Significant outliers are a 28-point win over Charleston Southern, 38-point loss to Florida, 28-point loss to LSU, 51-point loss to USC, 30-point loss to Vanderbilt, 33-point win over Kent State, and a 38-point loss to Florida.
— Considering only conference games, Kentucky has been outscored in SEC play 194-392. That is an average score of 15-30; over two touchdowns per game.
— Of their 441 total points scored since beating South Carolina, 247 have come outside SEC play to inferior opponents. Or 56% of their total points scored.
— Only 31% of the points scored against the Cats came against non-conference opponents.
— Commonwealth Stadium attendance continues to plummet. Many are predicting a record-breaking low turnout this weekend, surpassing the previous all-time low since 1999 set against Kent State earlier this season.
— Kentucky has changed quarterbacks six times. From Mike Hartline, to Morgan Newton, to Max Smith, to wideout Matt Roark, and back to Smith, then back to Newton again, and finally inserting Jalen Whitlow last week.
It’s no surprise that fan support has continued to drop over the course of the Joker Phillips era. The product on the field is getting worse and worse. The only thing we can hope for — and Joker too — is for his system and players to kick into gear before it’s too late.