Look, inside this fanbase we know what the last 2 years have been. 2018 was a truly historic year for Kentucky football. 10 wins, beating Florida, and a win over Penn State in a New Year’s Bowl equals the best year in modern UK history. Last year’s team faced enormous obstacles and still pulled off an 8-win season with no quarterback. The program has put a bunch of players into the NFL during the Mark Stoops tenure, they have clearly taken over dominance over their rival, and there isn’t a game on the schedule that Kentucky isn’t competitive in anymore. And yet, I think most outside the program still think of Kentucky as either a fringe decent program or the same bum program we had been.
So what does Kentucky have to do to get that to change? Clearly 10 wins didn’t do it. Clearly Josh Allen and Benny Snell and Lynn Bowden didn’t do it. So what is Kentucky not doing that they will need to do to get national respect. I think there are 3 things on the table:
There are only 2 teams that Mark Stoops has played multiple times during his tenure at Kentucky and not beaten. One of them is Alabama, who Stoops is 0-2 against. And the other is Georgia, who Stoops is 0-7 against. Georgia is one of the 5 best programs in the country right now and the cream of the crop in the SEC East. But at some point if the Cats are to gain any kind of respect, they’ve got to beat UGA. And we also have to be honest, the Cats haven’t been particularly close to beating the Dawgs either. I guess they’ve been somewhat competitive over the last 2 years, at least by the eye test. But the scores of those 2 games were 34-17 and 21-0. So you can’t really say we are competitive with Georgia right now. Take a game from them and you certainly get national respect.
-Beat a Top 10 team
Mark Stoops has had 9 chances against Top 10 teams and went 0-9. The scores of those games have been 27-13, 48-7, 48-17, 45-31, 34-6, 42-13, 34-17, 29-21, and 21-0. The only legitimate chance to win against a Top 10 opponent was Florida last year but otherwise Kentucky has been soundly beaten in all other games. This year, Georgia, Florida, and Auburn could all be in the Top 10 when UK plays them. And while UK only gets one of those games at home, the limited capacity at home stadiums should help the Cats in the other 2 games. Get a win in any of those contests and you get respect immediately.
-Have an All-SEC Quarterback
Look, Benny Snell was great. Josh Allen was the national defensive player of the year. But the quarterback position has always been the main point of focus on a national scale. And Kentucky has just been “managing” the quarterback position for many years. Stephen Johnson was a wonderful leader. And Terry Wilson has shown flashes before his injury. But UK hasn’t had a quarterback who could literally take over a game since…….Andre Woodson? And don’t give me Randall Cobb or Lynn Bowden as rebuttals. Woodson was the last All-SEC quarterback, making 2nd team in 2007. The last 1st team All-SEC quarterback was Tim Couch in 1998. Point being, UK has filled in the gaps nicely at the QB position but it is overdue we had a star. I hope it’s Terry Wilson this year.
If not these 3 things, what do you think Kentucky needs to do? And it has to be something we haven’t done.