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Hey College Football, let Kentucky have this

Six years ago this Saturday, Kentucky Football hit a low point. The Cats lost to Vanderbilt 40-0 in a mostly empty Commonwealth Stadium, putting the final nail in the coffin of the Joker Phillips Era. Phillips was fired the next day and Kentucky finished the season 2-10.

This Saturday, Kentucky will play Georgia in the same stadium for the SEC East. Both teams are in the top ten of the College Football Playoff rankings and Kroger Field has been sold out for a month. The Cats are 7-1 and will likely finish with their best record since the 1977 team went 10-1. After an arduous rebuilding process, Mark Stoops is now in the conversation for Coach of the Year.

Kentucky’s dream season hit a fever pitch Monday night when the playoff rankings were revealed. Stoops’ squad boasts the No. 1 scoring defense in the country and two of the best players in the game in Josh Allen and Benny Snell. They broke a 31-year losing streak to Florida (No. 11 in the playoff rankings) and beat Mississippi State (No. 18 in the rankings) by three touchdowns. Their only loss came in overtime at Texas A&M (No. 20 in the rankings). Their resume is proof they belong here.

And still, the fact that Kentucky football is in the conversation is enough to drive some in the media mad.

After Saturday’s last-second win over Missouri, ESPN’s Elle Duncan got so annoyed by the Kentucky football talk that she tried to stop the Cats in their tracks.

“Go away, Kentucky,” she said. “I’m sorry. Go away.”

Joey Galloway trashed Kentucky’s playoff chances. Doug Gottlieb said “zero real human beings” actually believe Kentucky is better than Ohio State, a team that just got whipped by Purdue. (Clay Travis said some stuff too, but he sucks, so who cares.) Simply put, Kentucky’s success this season doesn’t fit the narrative most college football pundits are used to, so naturally, they’re over it.

Here’s my message to them: Let Kentucky have this moment. Given all we’ve gone through, we deserve it.

No fanbase in college football has suffered more heartbreak. Four losses in the final minute in the 1980 season. The Peach Bowl in 1993. The Bluegrass Miracle in 2002. Thirty-one straight to Florida. Four overtimes vs. Tennessee in 2007. I could go on and on, but Kentucky football has been defined by an almost comical tendency to shoot itself in the foot, so much so that it even has its own phrase.

Yet, this team has risen above all that. Instead of collapsing in the final minutes, Mark Stoops’ teams now find a way to win, best illustrated by Saturday’s rally in the final five and a half minutes. Some may call it luck, but Stoops calls it a change in culture. When he took over in 2013, one of his biggest challenges was getting players to believe they could win. That may sound like a cliche, but is no easy feat for a program whose players — and fans — have been conditioned to failure. Stoops summed the rebuilding process up perfectly yesterday during the SEC Coaches Teleconference.

“It’s like strapping yourself in a room with cement walls and running your head into it everyday for six years.”

It’s not just him. Prior to the past few seasons, I think most fans would describe watching Kentucky football in the same way. No wonder we flocked to basketball’s sweet embrace so swiftly. The biggest indicator of the paradigm shift in the Big Blue Nation right now? The Duke game is less than a week away and all anyone can focus on right now is football. It’s weird, but it’s wonderful.

That’s why when most fanbases were complaining about their playoff rankings Monday night, we were reveling in ours. Screenshots of No. 9 Kentucky atop No. 10 Ohio State spread across social media like wildfire, tangible proof of another “pinch me” moment. On Saturday, the Cats will play Georgia for the SEC East, a day most fans thought would never come. If you listen to everybody else, the odds aren’t in Kentucky’s favor, but they haven’t been all season. Georgia’s run defense is vulnerable and we’ve got Benny Snell. They’ve got explosive playmakers, but we’ve got one of the best defenses in the country. It’s a big game, but this team has proved it’s finally capable of handling that.

Even if Kentucky loses to Georgia, I wouldn’t trade this week for the world. Fans have been downright giddy, finally trading cynicism for optimism. The program is capitalizing on the moment, showcasing its biggest stars in Times Square and in the Players’ Tribune. Football shirts are being proudly worn in November. The atmosphere in Lexington will be absolutely nuts on Saturday. Tickets to the Georgia game are going for even more than tickets to the Duke game on secondary markets, a sentence that is stunning in itself.

…But if Kentucky beats Georgia this weekend, the dream gets even bigger. Barring an LSU upset, the Cats will face Alabama in the SEC Championship, the ultimate battle of David vs. Goliath.

Now, that is something college football should definitely root for.


Article written by Mrs. Tyler Thompson

No, I will not make you a sandwich, but you can follow me on Twitter @MrsTylerKSR or email me.

35 Comments for Hey College Football, let Kentucky have this

  1. Shidler8684
    1:08 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    That’s nice, but I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for it.

    • eyebleedblue
      1:43 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      You should hold your breath.

    • N-UR-i
      1:51 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      Dont be a sissy, please hold your breath.

    • notFromhere
      2:13 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      Hold it until you can stop being negative

    • jimmer
      3:10 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      Ditto notFromhere

  2. meeksfor3
    1:08 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    The salt in their tears adds flavor to each victory.

  3. dhard
    1:10 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    The fact this article is on the website and about football in November is downright thrilling.

  4. Belenos
    1:13 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Great article and I completely agree. Let us have this. For the first time in my life, I’m not running to basketball JUST to get away from football. Go Gats!

    On another note, I hate to be that guy, but I have to be that guy: “Their resume is proof they belong to be here?”

    • Belenos
      1:15 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      Then I did it too! Stupid fingers.

  5. Melvit
    1:26 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    The difference with this year is, even if we lose on Saturday, I will still be calling this a successful season. This has been my favorite season I’ve lived through and there have been quite a lot for me.

  6. UKfanman01
    1:29 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Gooooooooo Cats!!!! Theyve been shamed all year. Underdogs in almost every single game. Put it on em Cats!

  7. Headhurts
    1:31 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Seems like in college basketball everybody pulls for the underdog, in college football most want the same matchups, what’s with that?

  8. bwise
    1:40 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Elle Duncan is a Georgia fan, maybe stop hiring biased analyst. I’m not sure Joey’s comments were towards our team being good or not…I can see how he meant how can Kentucky beat both Georgia and bama. But who knows and who cares….GO CATS!!!

  9. WildcatMarkC
    1:40 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Does anyone know where the spot to watch games is in Louisville? I moved back to KY a few years ago and have yet to figure out where gets a great UK crowd. Tin roof was good bc turtle was the manager but he left and the new person isn’t a former UK player in guessing…. plus if we’re being honest “teen roof” as it’s known around here is more of a spot to use your first fake ID than it is for a grown ass man

    • TheAssman
      1:59 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      Im in Lville and go to the Drakes at the Summit which usually has a good pro UK crowd. If you find a good place, please post it.

  10. TheAssman
    1:48 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    I predicted a 5 win or less season for UK this year so I’m impressed. GO CATS!!

    • notFromhere
      2:10 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      …it’s awesome to hear someone admit that. Hats off to you. Everyone I know that said they wouldnt win 6 is saying they “knew” they’d be as good as they are.

  11. JASUN74
    1:55 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    I have no idea why we would want them to “ Let us have it”!! We have earned it and deserve it. Also why does every writer on this site keep saying “ Even if we lose”? We are better than Georgia this year and I Will not be happy if we lose. That’s not the way winning teams and fans think. That said , I love your work TT you do a great job. GO CATS AND MAKE A STATEMENT SATURDAY!!!

    • notFromhere
      2:08 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

      It’s the UK Football Effect. They don’t even hear their own negativity, superstition, etc… It’s ingrained and will take a while to be uprooted. They love their team, though, as much as any other team is loved (and more)

  12. notFromhere
    2:06 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    There are a few negative fans that would benefit from holding their breath until the game is over Saturday. Just sayin

    I imagined this moment when I saw my first few seasons of UK Football. It was always possible if the staff and the fans got out of their own way. Stoops and Marrow have used the formula that we talked about back then, and that Rich Brooks came close to, but never had the backing (facilities and funds) to finish.

    I don’t see this being the top of the mountain, though, unless we make and win the playoff, and somehow hang on to this staff. No reason we can’t get there as long as we stay out of our own way.

  13. Patrick_David
    2:11 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Most excellent article Mrs. TT……Thank you!

  14. notFromhere
    2:12 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    There will be a TON of people that will be rooting for UK during and after Saturday that never did before. Some can’t get on the wagon until the team has broken the stereotype into a million pieces. I hope that’s Saturday.

  15. cats646
    2:23 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    Just keep kickin a$$ cats!!!!!!

  16. az1006
    3:15 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    I’ve never really understood this, but it seems that everyone loves an underdog…Except in college football. The elitism and exclusiveness of the culture of college football has always rubbed me the wrong way, and not just because I’m a Kentucky fan. It’s this, “well you’ve never eaten at the big table before, so you can’t eat at the big table” mentality. College basketball isn’t that way…The entire country gets behind the Cinderella every year. People love to see the giants (Yankees, Patriots, Warriors, etc) lose in other sports. But not in college football. You’d think everyone that isn’t a Georgia fan would look at what Kentucky has done and be excited that finally, a little guy has proven it’s possible to get out of the cellar and on top of the mountain (and in the best football conference in America, to boot) and would be rooting like hell for the Cats to win. But they won’t. Because we’re Kentucky. It’s all a fluke, and we don’t deserve to be where we are.

    The wins and losses and they way we’ve gotten there tell a different story. Sure, the game Saturday was weird and we lose it 99 out of 100. But we’ve been on the other side of that coin so many times, it’s nice to get a lucky break for once. The old saying goes, “It’s better to be lucky than good,” and that’s almost always true. But, for once, Kentucky football’s got a little of both. And dammit, we’ve earned a seat.

    • henderblue
      7:35 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

      az they will love us and root for us against Alabama. After we beat Georgia.

    • runningunnin.454
      8:53 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

      Good comment az, they had better save us a seat…cause the Cats are hungry.

  17. jakew60
    3:25 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    I predicted 8-4 maybe 9-3 if we got lucky in a game so I’m very excited about where this team is going and have the upmost respect to players and coaches

  18. Shively1978
    3:48 pm November 1, 2018 Permalink

    I don’t see why the media acts like they do to UK. They didn’t do it to Louisville when they where ranked high. It’s not like they have big time football tradition. Plus if we played in the ACC we would win 8 9 10 games every year cause the competition is not near as strong as the SEC

  19. Well, if she’s a GA fan I get it. Just tell her that GA should just forfeit every bball game to UK using the same logic. To quote Mike Gundy “Thpblblblblbl!”

  20. cathatter
    7:29 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

    “Earned – Not Given!”

  21. Cmart0907
    8:19 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

    If Kentucky faces Alabama their secondary will really get put to test. I don’t think their QB have thrown an interception all year. I think they average like 50 points a game. Lol thats insane!! But let’s not worry about that yet. Beat GEORGIA!!

  22. runningunnin.454
    8:50 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

    Very nice article. It did not occur to me that tomorrow’s big game will be on the same day as the 40-0 Vandy game with the near empty stadium. Wow… that’s kind of eerie.

  23. cdmacg01
    9:40 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

    For everyone telling people to hold your breath, if you go to the game, please don’t. We need everyone of you to be as loud as possible the entire game.

  24. Just saying
    10:06 am November 2, 2018 Permalink

    You said the same thing about Barker ams Elam.

  25. Paw
    12:54 pm November 2, 2018 Permalink

    That’s my dream to face BAMA!! On fan day I told every Defensive player I could that if they showed up and played for all 4 quarters they could compete and win against any team in the Nation and they have!! Gotta get past Georgia 1st Go Cats