Back in the fall of 2012, I started a feature called “KSR Trend Watch” in which I charted all the latest trends in UK sports. For some reason, that feature fell by the wayside (probably our depression over going to the NIT), but with an exciting new basketball team and a football team that just beat Louisville and is going bowling, it’s time to resurrect it. Join me as I break down what’s hot and what’s not this week in UK sports.
ðŸ“ˆ Rising faster than Bobby Petrino’s blood pressure
When Kentucky became bowl eligible after beating Austin Peay, it seemed they would end up in the Liberty Bowl, the Independence Bowl, or the Birmingham Bowl, which was just fine with fans. Just happy to be going to a bowl for the first time in six years, won’t be greedy, thanks. Kentucky’s improbable upset of Louisville vaulted them into a shiny new tier of bowls, and it looks like the Cats may go to the most prestigious of the three, the TaxSlayer Bowl in Jacksonville. A New Year’s Eve bowl! Could any of us have imagined this after the Southern Miss loss?
Jacksonville isn’t exactly the most exciting city in the world — heck, it barely cracks the top five in Florida alone — but if Kentucky goes to the TaxSlayer Bowl, it might as well be Shangri La. For instance, did you know Jacksonville has the largest urban park system in the country? And 22 miles of white sandy beaches? Downtown nightlife may not be as wild as say, Nashville, but they’ve got a beach, and even if it’s mid 60’s, Kentucky fans will be sipping Coronas on it.
If you didn’t respect Johnson before the Louisville game, you certainly did after. The junior quarterback had a career day when it mattered, passing for 338 passing yards and three touchdowns to lead Kentucky to the win over its arch rival, arguably the biggest win in program history. Johnson outplayed Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson and his performance was so impressive he won the Manning Quarterback of the Week award. The JuCo transfer was already a hero for taking the Cats to a bowl game after Drew Barker went down, but with the win over the Cards, he cemented his place in Kentucky football history.
We knew De’Aaron Fox would be good, but right now, he’s ahead of Tyler Ulis’ pace for assists in a single season, with 53 to Tyler’s 35 through seven games. If you remember, Tyler holds the Kentucky basketball record for most assists in a single season. And, even though Fox may have been gifted an extra assist vs. Arizona State, he now has only the second triple double in Kentucky basketball history. Something tells me it won’t be his last, either.
In case you didn’t notice, Fox, Malik Monk, and Wenyen Gabriel each wore one blue shoe and one white shoe vs. Arizona State on Monday:
According to my shoe guru Nick Roush, the shoes in question are the Kentucky Kobe 11 PEs. On Saturday, we’ll find out if that trend sticks, or if it will morph even further into the players wearing their jerseys backwards ala Kriss Kross.
Ole Roy went up a notch in my book after criticizing Carolina fans for being too quiet during games after his team lost to Indiana in a rowdy Assembly Hall.
“But it was a wonderful crowd. Gosh. I’d like to play in front of a crowd like that in the Smith Center every night other than the frickin’ Duke game.”
Watch out, Roy, you might not be invited to wine club in Chapel Hill next week.
Saturday’s win was great for fans, Kentucky’s bowl resume, and the rivalry, but the biggest dividends may come in recruiting. The staff hit the trail Sunday morning to check in on their 2017 commits and lure some new targets in; so far, it’s working. Several high-profile targets are sitting up and taking notice of the Cats, including four-star athlete Lynn Bowden, who will be on campus this weekend along with a bevy of elite prospects. For years, Stoops sold recruits on what could happen; on Saturday, the program finally manifested that dream.
ðŸ“‰ Falling faster than Louisville in the College Football Playoff Rankings
The Cards were a 27-point favorite and still managed to lose on their home field. BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
To their arch rival! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
And their basketball team blew a 22-point lead! BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA
At least they’ve still got soccer.
Not only did Petrino lose to Kentucky — a cardinal sin, indeed — he snapped at a reporter over a perfectly reasonable question in the postgame press conference. This GIF of him having to walk through Kentucky’s celebration on the field afterwards is priceless:
Did you see Lamar do the Heisman pose?
Did you see him fumble?
Last night, Ole Miss — who Kentucky opens conference play with on December 29 — lost to Middle Tennessee State by 15 at home. On Monday, Missouri lost to North Carolina Central. Last week, Mississippi State lost to Lehigh. The SEC still has some good teams — South Carolina and Florida are at least ranked — but man, some of the teams in the league are woofing their way through non-conference play.
Seven dead, 74 injured, and more than 17,000 acres burned. There’s no other way to put it; the wildfires that burned parts of Gatlinburg and East Tennessee this week have been devastating and their aftermath heartbreaking. Dolly Parton (Patron Saint of Awesome & Full-Busted Women) pledged to pay $1,000 a month to help families who lost their homes. If you’d also like to donate, visit www.dollywoodfoundation.org.
ðŸ† TREND OF THE WEEK ðŸ†: L’s Down
The gesture was EVERYWHERE after Kentucky beat Louisville on Saturday. From the field to the locker room to all of the tweets and snapchats in between, the Cats have clearly embraced what is basically our way of reminding little brother where they stand. Jacob Hyde even wore an L’s Down t-shirt on the field before the game:
Yeah, that’ll never get old.