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Potential opponents for the proposed Big Ten/SEC Challenge


Earlier this week at the SEC spring meetings in Destin, Arkansas head football coach Brett Bielema tossed out the idea of a Big Ten/SEC Challenge. A former Big Ten coach himself at Wisconsin, Bielema knows and thing or two about both conferences, and would like to see them go head-to-head each year on the gridiron over a two-weekend span.

“I thought it was just so cool to see crossover games at the beginning of the year,” Bielema said. “Let the commissioners come together and decide who’s playing them or an outside source. Have the Big Ten and the SEC go together on two different weekends, seven teams … It would be an awesome thing for everybody involved.”

If this were to happen, it would present another tough game on Kentucky’s schedule outside of Louisville and the eight SEC games.

Here are some of the probable match-ups for the Cats:


This is the obvious choice and the most likely of the bunch. A Big Ten/SEC Challenge would allow UK and IU to renew the football rivalry that began in 1893. Once called the “Bourbon Barrel Game,” the two teams played every year from 1987 until 2005, with several other meetings way before that.

The Hoosiers lead the series, 18-17-1.


Unless Mark Stoops turns thing around in a hurry, neither conference would pair Kentucky up with Iowa, a team that went undefeated in conference play last year. The Hawkeyes would draw one of the SEC’s better teams, no doubt.

But it would be nice to watch Stoops coach against his alma mater. He played at Iowa from 1986 to 1988 and returned as a graduate assistant in 1990 and 1991.


The two teams already share players and coaches, so why not settle it on the field? Since coming to Lexington, Stoops has already taken Nebraska transfers Braylon Heard, Courtney Love and Greg Hart. Not to mention, Vince Marrow, who left Lincoln to join Stoops’ staff. The Cats almost landed Husker transfer Kevin Williams just last month, too.

On-field performance has also been about the same in recent years. It’s too bad Bo Pelini is gone or the game could’ve been billed as the “Battle of Cardinal Mooney.” Stoops, Marrow and Pelini all attended Cardinal Mooney High in Youngstown.


Vanderbilt and Kentucky can flip a coin for the Big Ten’s two bottom-feeders. Or better yet, make one team for each conference with players from both programs on each side, and have those two teams play each other.

Ohio State

Screw it. Let’s punch up. Kentucky is making noise on the recruiting trail in Ohio, so let’s go ahead and take on the Buckeyes on the field. Loser can only target five Ohio high school prospects a year. Change the game.

Article written by Drew Franklin

I can recite every line from Forrest Gump, blindfolded. Follow me on Twitter: @DrewFranklinKSR

12 Comments for Potential opponents for the proposed Big Ten/SEC Challenge

  1. UKunts
    10:03 pm June 3, 2016 Permalink

    Just to b clear Kentucky is not making that much noise on the recruiting trail in Ohio , I could b wrong , but I don’t think UK has recently signed any player from Ohio , that had an Ohio state offer, they are getting the players TOSU doesn’t offer , now I am not sure if that is what he meant by making noise or not , but they have been stealing some decent prospects from maybe Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, so if that is what he meant by making noise , then ya, but they are not taking any prospects from TOSU.

    • whatwasthat
      1:09 pm June 4, 2016 Permalink

      URAKunt, go back to the little o board, most hated fans in sports and looks like Michigan is going to have their way with you for a while, feel another heart attack coming on.

  2. Ricky Blumpkin
    11:44 pm June 3, 2016 Permalink

    In my opinion, we would be well served to learn from little brother. Schedule weak opponents and stomp them. Not drag them to OT, as we did with EKU. We have a long way to go.

    • dshwildcats
      9:51 am June 4, 2016 Permalink

      Ricky Blumpkin,

      Unfortunately, we didn’t have the advantage that “little brother” had when it comes to scheduling, and building our program. Louisville spent 20 years as an Independent (1975-1995). This allowed them to “hand pick” their own schedule. Yes, they played some tough competition during these years. But, they also played plenty of winnable games.

      In 1996, Louisville moved to C-USA. The competition in that conference was just what Louisville needed to build some momentum for a program that was still trying to make a name for itself. Go back 20 years, and take Florida, Tennessee, Georgia, LSU and Mississippi State off of Kentucky’s schedule, and replace them with the likes of Army, Houston, UAB, Tulane, Memphis and Cincinnati. Throw in 3 or 4 winnable non-conference games, and you’ve almost guaranteed yourself a winning season, and a subsequent bowl appearance. Do that for 9 or 10 years, and you’ve got the ball rolling for your program.

      To Louisville’s credit, their administration began investing in their football program long before Kentucky’s. It began with hiring Howard Schnellenberger in 1985. They have continued to invest in the program over the past 30 years. Kentucky finally got the message after letting Joker go after the 2012 season. But, they’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

  3. BluKudzu
    5:26 am June 4, 2016 Permalink

    Last year’s ineptness is all I needed to see, to understand the direction this program is heading. Imbecilic coaching at the lowest level. At least the hype machine will cease early this season. UK has talent, not a lot, but good enough to bury a team like EKU. We didn’t. This year will be far worse than last year, unless the defense picks it up. I have little confidence, of this happening, at this point. Geez, I do hope I am so wrong. Southern Mississippi will tell us all we need to know about the upcoming season.
    I could care less about a possible Big 10 match up.

  4. Blueblueblueblue
    11:12 am June 4, 2016 Permalink

    Should avoid this (although people in the SEC won’t listen to what they think). This would be a hit to their post-season chances every year. Instead of this, they should avoid the cardinals and schedule a sub-par non-power 5 team. Beat Vandy + 1 other SEC school per year + 4 non-conference teams and you get a bowl.

  5. Blueblueblueblue
    11:13 am June 4, 2016 Permalink

    If you guys every want to try something fun, when you comment gets “awaiting moderation”, just copy it and change one word. Then paste it. It’s extremely enlightening to see which words will get you flagged. Also, sad.

  6. dshwildcats
    12:04 pm June 4, 2016 Permalink


    No need to avoid the Cardinals. They just need to elevate their level of play! It’s not like Kentucky’s facing Alabama or Ohio State that last game of the season. Two years ago, a 5-6 Kentucky team came into PJCS and gave a 9 win Louisville team all they wanted. As a matter of fact, the Cardinals didn’t secure the victory until Towles’ INT inside the final minute. Last season, Kentucky jumped all over Louisville in the 1st quarter. Unfortunately for Kentucky fans, the DC, DJ Eliot, admitted after the game that they really didn’t spend much time preparing for Lamar Jackson, and were caught off guard when Louisville made the switch from Bolin to Jackson. To me that is still mind-boggling; and the fact that you would actually admit that to the media is even more mind-boggling! If you do a better job of containing Jackson, and Boom Williams doesn’t leave the game after the 1st quarter, Kentucky is probably in that game until the very end.

    Kentucky just needs to finish the deal when they have opportunity. In the past 2 seasons, they’ve had a legitimate chance to beat Florida, but didn’t get it done. They had a chance to get Auburn at home last year (a team that handled Louisville for all but the last 10 minutes of the game last season), but didn’t get it done. Two years ago, they hung right with Miss. State when the Bulldogs were the #1 team in the nation, but couldn’t close the deal.

    Kentucky’s coaches need to make better in-game decisions. Kentucky’s players need to make the plays to finish games. It’s not like this program was 3-9 or 2-10 the past two seasons. They were just a few plays away from having winning seasons both years. Of course, everyone can play the “if game”! I’ve heard Louisville fans say they were just a Michael Bush injury, and a 2nd half collapse against Rutgers, from winning the National Championship in 2006! So there you go!

  7. Jiminy Crickets
    12:21 pm June 4, 2016 Permalink

    If you can not finish in the top 10 of your own conference, should you get to play in any type of challenge? Seems to me, we’re already “challenged”.

    • dshwildcats
      1:06 pm June 4, 2016 Permalink

      Jiminy Crickets,

      I agree that we need to focus on competing in our own conference. But, at some point down the line, it would be nice to see Kentucky get some different teams on the schedule. I can remember the 70s and 80s when we played Penn State, Oklahoma, WVU, Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, Baylor, Maryland, etc. But as you said, let’s worry about getting competitive in the SEC before we worry about who we can take on outside the conference.

    8:13 pm June 4, 2016 Permalink

    MEH the OHIO ST Idea is idiotic cause buceyes would smash us just about every year and our key recruiting state would go down the drain!

  9. dshwildcats
    10:44 pm June 4, 2016 Permalink


    A game with the Buckeyes wouldn’t be an every year thing. I think the Big Ten/SEC Challenge that Bielema is proposing would have schools rotating opponents every year, like the ACC/Big Ten Challenge in basketball. Maybe one year you get the Buckeyes, and the next season you get Purdue. Yes, right now a matchup with Ohio State would not be pretty! But, you hope at some point your program is to the point again where it can compete with the “big boys”. All it takes is one special Saturday! A perfect October afternoon/evening in 2007 comes to mind when you think about knocking off one of the “big boys”. The #1 team in the nation, and eventual National Champion, fell that day. If those two teams play 10 times that season, LSU probably wins eight, maybe nine, times. But, it just took that one time!

    As far as a loss to the Bucks hurting recruiting in Ohio, who can really say. We’ve lost 5 straight to Louisville, but that hasn’t hurt our in-state recruiting. We managed to land Kash Daniel, Drake Jackson and Landon Young with 5 straight losses to the Cards on our resume.