Tomorrow afternoon, the Cats take on New Mexico State, a team ranked 121st out of the 128 teams in college football; however, after two bad losses, there is still apprehension around the Big Blue Nation. There’s no denying that Saturday’s game is a must-win for Mark Stoops, but in some ways, it’s also a no-win situation as well. Win, and, well, it’s New Mexico State. Lose, and, well, let’s not go there because my heart can’t handle it.
Here’s a question I’ve asked myself throughout the week: is there anything UK can do vs. New Mexico State to make me feel better about the season?
Let’s break it down.
Best case scenario: Put up 50+ points and shut New Mexico State out
After being outscored 72-7 through six quarters, DJ Eliot and the defense are (deservedly) taking some heat this week, to the point that Mark Stoops is stepping in and taking over some of the play calling. The best way to silence the critics? Shut New Mexico State out. Or, hold them to a fourth quarter touchdown or less.
Likewise, Drew Barker and the offense must get back on track after flatlining vs. Florida. Last season, UK put up 58 points vs. Charlotte. Scoring 50+ vs. New Mexico State with balanced attack of passing and rushing would hopefully prove that Eddie Gran’s offense is more like the first half of Southern Miss and less like the six quarters since.
Okay scenario: Beat New Mexico State by 17
As much as I’d love Kentucky to come out and look like world beaters, I have a feeling New Mexico State will put up some points. Kentucky’s defense is just too vulnerable in areas to pitch a total shutout. What’s the margin that would make me feel “okay” about the win? I say 17 points. Beat the — searching for New Mexico State’s mascot — Aggies by more than 17 points, good. Less than, critics will still chirp.
Uh-oh scenario: It’s close
If this game is closer than two touchdowns and the chirping will turn into…cawing? (Why did I go with bird sounds for this analogy?) New Mexico State ranks 104th in the country in total offense and 97th in total defense, AND they’ll be without their star running back Larry Rose III. This game cannot be close for fans to stay on board.
Light the stadium on fire scenario: Lose to New Mexico State
I don’t even want to consider this option, so please don’t make me, Kentucky.
Your turn. Is there anything Kentucky can do tomorrow to make you feel better about the season?