Since 1980, Kentucky has played a non Division 1-A opponent to open the season just once, in 2007 against Eastern Kentucky. If you forget, that was the first year that Kentucky moved back the Louisville game to the 3rd game of the year when the game was played in Lexington. But this year the Cats will open up with UT-Martin on Saturday. It is a game that is not expected to provide too much of a challenge for the Cats. And it’s also not all that rare for a BCS team to open the season with a 1-AA opponent. This year, 47 teams will open with a 1-AA opponent. But for Cats fans, it’s a bit rare, thanks mostly to the UL series.
I think you could argue that opening with a potentially easy opponent will be great for this year’s team. New starting quarterback and still a bunch of young guys on roster who will play. It will be nice to ease those guys into the mix rather than play a Louisville or even a WKU to open the year. And that is the basic reason you schedule a game like UT-Martin, to simply ease into the season better.
But with that said, I think it’s not a leap to say the hype and general talk coming into the year is also less than normal because fans are not going to get super excited for a UT-Martin, even when it opens the season. That doesn’t mean the crowd won’t be great Saturday and fans won’t watch all across the state. It simply means that there is little doubt what the result will be on Saturday, so fans are generally less interested. Throw in the basketball team’s Bahamas trip and I think the beginning of the season has been one of the less hyped couple weeks leading into the season that we have seen.
So my question is if you have a preference of the way to open the season? Do you like the challenging game to open the year, like a Louisville, and the hype that comes with that. Or would you rather schedule a cupcake like UT-Martin to open the year and almost guarantee a 1-0 start, but also lose some of the fan excitement that comes with opening the season?