We’re exactly 71 hours away from Kentucky football’s first game of the 2015 season and its first in the New Commonwealth Stadium. The talking season has lasted entirely too long and it’s almost time to shut up and play –or in our case, watch– football.
But, unfortunately, we still have a few more days before the ball is kicked off and the helmets collide under the lights Saturday evening. So as we suffer a little longer through the wait, bear with me as we talk a little more about what’s ahead.
Below you’ll find my predictions, next to an empty box for you to check off as they happen on Saturday.
Patrick Towles will throw for 350 yards.
Towles will have a field day throwing against the Ragin’ Cajun defense that ranked 105th in passing yards allowed last season at over 260 per game. The secondary is a year older now so it should be improved, but with the recent news that starting corner Simeon Thomas will miss the game, it will still have its hands full containing a loaded UK receiving corps and a more accurate and confident Towles.
CJ Conrad will catch a touchdown pass.
It will be his first of many this season.
Sihiem King will return a kick for a touchdown.
A Wildcat hasn’t returned a kickoff for a score since 2009, when Derrick Locke took one 100 yards to the house against Louisville. That’s six years without a kick return TD, the longest drought in the Southeastern Conference. It’s been five years since UK returned a punt for a score, also the longest drought in the SEC.
King will show off his explosiveness in his college debut with a touchdown on a kickoff, thus ending the long streak and getting that monkey off Kentucky’s back early in the season.
Boom Williams will do Boom Williams things.
I don’t know what he will do, but there will be a play or two or three when Boom has the ball in his hands and something special happens — one of those moments where you turn to your neighbor and you each give that wide-eyed look of disbelief, acknowledging Boom is the real deal. You know the look I’m talking about. You’ll do it a couple times Saturday, followed by a high-five if you’re the high-fiving type.
Kentucky’s linebackers will struggle containing Elijah McGuire outside.
McGuire is a threat in the rushing and passing game, so Kentucky’s inexperienced linebackers and ends may get torched a couple times. Josh Forrest is the one reliable piece in the middle; everyone else will need to step up and play well to contain Louisiana-Lafayette’s star back.
The new roundabouts on Alumni Drive will be dangerous after the game.
People leaving the stadium after a long day of tailgating, mixed with a new roundabout in place of a four-way stop? That’s a dangerous combination. Be careful out there, Cats fans.
Some fans will bitch about the stadium.
Look, it’s not going to be completely ready. We’ve know that for some time now. Hopefully, the majority of fans will go into the game with an understanding there is still a little work to be done, and they’ll appreciate what they see and enjoy the game being played on the gorgeous new field in front of them.
However, not everyone is a team player, so we’ll undoubtedly here whining from some people. Don’t be one of those people. Suck it up and tough it out as best as you can. You will survive. I promise.
Kentucky Joe will annoy the hell out of everyone he encounters.
Went ahead and checked that one off for ya. It’s like the free space in Bingo.
Joe will be all over the place, singing and talking to anyone in sight.
Matthew Mitchell and the Go Big Blue Band will sing Kelly Clarkson’s “Since You’ve Been Gone.”
Coach Mitchell is breaking out the Kelly Clarkson when he performs on stage prior to the game, no doubt. The only mystery is which Kelly Clarkson song he will sing, and how many? I’m setting “Since You’ve Been Gone” as the favorite, followed by “Stronger,””Behind These Hazel Eyes,” and “Already Gone.”
(Yes, I had to Google ‘Kelly Clarkson songs.’)
Ryan Lemond will say something dumb on KSR.
It’s been too long since we’ve let Ryan run wild around Commonwealth Stadium with a microphone on the KSR pregame show. He’s due a good, idiotic comment at some point on the two-hour broadcast. If not a comment, he’ll pop a player or coach in the mouth with the mic while trying to get comments during the Cat Walk.
It will be a sellout.
And if it’s not a sellout, UK will call it a sellout. Either way, sellout. Let’s go ahead and check that one, too.
Kentucky will cover the spread.
The Cats are currently a 17-point favorite, and if I were a gambling man, I’d take that bet. The Cajuns’ four consecutive nine-win seasons don’t scare me one bit. Sure, they’re a good Sun Belt team, but I think Kentucky is much improved from a year ago and ready to hit someone in the mouth. ULL is that someone.