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RECAP: The SEC Championship dream is dead

Georgia clinched the SEC East and a spot in Atlanta with a win over your University of Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday.

Big Blue Nation’s wild dreams of the SEC Championship game and a spot in the College Football Playoff are officially dead, but it was fun while it lasted. It was really, really, really fun.

Before we get to what went wrong in the 34-17 loss to the Bulldogs, I think we should all take a moment to appreciate how we were even in the very unfamiliar position in the first place. Kentucky entered the game with a 7-1 record and a ninth-place spot in the College Football Rankings. Say that out loud to yourself. Do it. Right now. Stop reading this and say out loud, “Kentucky entered the game with a 7-1 record and a ninth-place spot in the College Football Rankings.” That’s where we were this morning, only two years removed from begging to make a bowl game, any bowl game, for the first time since 2010.

The Cats had the attention of the entire nation with the school’s best start in over four decades, but still needed to play good, clean football to upset a very good Georgia team (that almost won the national championship last year) in Lexington. Unfortunately, Georgia was better in all phases of the game, and proved to be the much better team.

WHY KENTUCKY LOST

The offense is still not getting it done.

Kentucky’s offense scored more points than it has in a month, but still couldn’t get to 20 points. As good as the defense has been all season, it’s tough to win a football game when you’re scoring in the teens every week.

The Cats did have two great drives in the third quarter, though; each going for 75 yards and a touchdown. However, every other possession was lacking execution and ball movement as UK scored only three points on its eight other drives.

A quick scan of the fan reaction points the finger toward Eddie Gran. I really hope he doesn’t search his own name on Twitter, because it’s ugly out there. If it were up to the fan base, I think he’d be out a job. The criticism is fair, too, because the offense hasn’t been good since putting up 24 points in the first half of the South Carolina game. Gran’s side of the ball scored only four touchdowns in 16 quarters of football before finding the end zone in a second half comeback effort against the Bulldogs, when it was already too late to matter.

Over the course of several ugly performances, the play-calling only changed in desperate times, and that’s why everyone is so upset with the play-caller. The offense is too one-dimensional and opposing defenses are able to load up the box and shut down Benny Snell.

Gran is not a popular man in Big Blue Nation right now.

The defense wasn’t as good as it has been.

Kentucky’s defense took a step back against Georgia, especially with its tackling. The tackling was pretty terrible throughout the entire game and there are more than a couple of culprits who shoulder the blame.

Poor Mike Edwards got juked out of his Nikes on D’Andre Swift’s 20-yard touchdown run. Swift made a great move, but it was one of many times Kentucky’s defense failed to bring down the ballcarrier when in good position to make a stop.

Mark Stoops said after the game, “You’ve got to give them credit. There’s a lot of one-on-one situations that happened out there and the speed with which they have definitely is difficult to defend. It’s one of the reasons why they have been Top-5 team the past two years.”

He also said, “We missed more tackles than I could remember.”

You can’t commit stupid penalties against great teams.

Darius West’s targeting penalty and Logan Stenberg’s unsportsmanlike conduct penalty stick out as two plays that handed Georgia’s offense a chunk of yards. Bunchy Stallings’ ejection for making contact with the ref also rewarded Georgia with great field position, but I’m not so sure about that call. I need an explanation or better video of that “contact.”

Georgia’s the better team.

The two teams’ records may have been the same at kickoff, but it’s clear Georgia is the better football team. There’s a reason Georgia was picked to win the East in the preseason and is going back to the SEC title game for a second straight year: Georgia is an elite college football team. Kentucky may be in the midst of a special season, but it’s not elite. It’ll take more special seasons to jump up to that top tier.

WHAT YOU CAN BE HAPPY ABOUT

10-2 is still very much alive.

If Kentucky can bounce back and win in Knoxville next week, I think it can crawl through its last two games to finish with a 10-2 record — TEN AND TWO RECORD! — in the regular season. A two-loss resume opens up some serious bowl game opportunities and… let’s be real here… 10-2 is an insane year for the program. Hell, Las Vegas had the season win total set at 5.5 games back in August. Now we’re talking about winning 10 and going to a New Year’s Day bowl. If you can’t smile about that, you’re a miserable person.

Louisville sucks.

Kentucky should beat Louisville by at least 50 points. If Bobby Petrino is still the head coach in that game, Stoops will want to murder the Cardinals.

We get to watch Josh Allen for four more games.

Josh Allen is a guy we’ll remember for years to come, and we get to witness his greatness a little longer. The same can be said of Benny Snell, who’s in a little bit of a funk by his standards, but is still one of the best to ever do it here.

Enjoy these next two months, BBN. Today’s loss sucked but 2018 is still a wild and fun ride for Kentucky football.

Article written by Drew Franklin

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

71 Comments for RECAP: The SEC Championship dream is dead



  1. makeitstop
    8:34 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    It should be a 10 win season and that’s something I’ve only seen once in my lifetime, BUT we’ve got to make a change on offense to do it. A touchdown a game won’t do it w a banged up D. If Gran is good, he adapts. If he’s the chump a lot of u say, he keeps doing the same thing expecting it to suddenly work.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      12:36 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Should be, but it could easily end up an 8-4 season too.



    • Skooms
      1:27 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      8-4?? TN and who? Throw the rivalry card out the window, UofL is a dumpster fire. A nuclear one at that that can’t stop burning. There won’t be more than 15k Louisville fans even at the game. That team has completely given up. So where’s the 4th loss??



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      1:38 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      UofL will literally have nothing to play for that last game except to ruin out season….and I expect the refs will be more than willing to help them. As bad as they are, their offense is still considerably more capable than ours, so our defense better be much better than they were today…in the “biggest game in school history” with an SEC title game on the line…to beat a desperate UofL team at home with nothing to lose. I like this team, but I still have zero confidence in the coaching staff to do more than they “need” to….which they already have. Stoops and Co. still have yet to prove they know how to finish the 2nd half of a season with authority.



    • notFromhere
      9:10 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      The refs will be SEC referees, right? Dont interconference road games still give the visiting team officials from their own conference?

      If it’s “neutral conference” referees, then yes, the Cats will have to play 11 on 16. Everyone dislikes Kentucky it seems. If it’s $EC officials, they’ll want UK to play in the most prestigious bowl game possible for that conference revenue share.

      If there’s a single ref from the big10 on the crew, we’ll be down 2 ejected players before halftime.



    • cats646
      9:31 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Eddie Gran has been doing the exact same thing every week?! That’s why our offense can’t score. Until the second half vs Georgia. We went faster and did better. Maybe he will think a little before we play Tennessee.



  2. BlakeBlueNation
    8:39 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    Lets get ready for Tuesday against Duke. We still got the best team in basketball! Lets not let this loss bring that down



    • cats646
      9:32 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Our basketball team barely won Friday. It’s football season.



    • Skooms
      12:54 pm November 4, 2018 Permalink

      The basketball team is sleepwalking through exhibition games. I also didn’t know that 22 points is considered a “barely won” game. You can cheer for both sports ya know? A true UK fan does..PERIOD.



  3. njCat
    8:48 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    This football team is not beating anyone by 50 points.



    • RickE
      1:45 pm November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Have you seen Little Brother’s D line?



  4. big cat
    8:50 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    I’m OK with the chance to win 10 games. I am not grieving this loss. Think about it. IF we’d won today then AL would score 80 on us in the 1st quarter….lol.



  5. Dysfunction
    8:55 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    When reached for comment, Han Solo had this to say about UK’s season:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=InuM6V5WDaI



    • 4everUKblue
      9:32 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      You certainly chose a fitting username for yourself.



  6. Shively1978
    9:03 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    I’m still proud of them for continuing to fight when they where down big. They where just outmatched. And Stoops needs to have a serious talk with Gran. This offense is much more suited to play up tempo football not grind it out



    • Catlogic15
      9:32 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

      If Tennessee only score 10, we MIGHT win.



    • ScoggDog
      9:33 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

      Hmmm … it’s like Drew Franklin and Nick Roush have never met each other … at least when it comes to Eddie Gran.

    • I think Stoops is largely the reason the offense is so conservative. I could be wrong, but rememeber “Give it to Benny. Give it to 26. Give it to Benny.”?



  7. Irish son
    9:03 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    Just an embarrassing, penalty filled fiasco. Stoops teams have lacked discipline since he’s been here.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      1:44 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      I don’t know what game you watched, but penalties were the least of UK’s problems today. The worst that went against them wasn’t even legit…a BS ref-touching call, just like last year’s bowl game. This game came down to UK simply being out-played, out-coached, out-classed, and out-recruited (on the offensive side).



  8. tdub
    9:22 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    I still like this team, win out for a great year.



  9. friendsofcoal
    9:38 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    I’m hoping for a 10 win season but prepared for 9…either way I’m pumped about UK football!!! Go Cats!



  10. Haere1973
    9:41 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    It may be over for this season but I look for good things in the near future.



  11. BigolBlue
    10:01 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    Everyone is just marking us down for 10 wins already. 2 road games left with a rivalry in there. With this poop offense anything can happen.



    • Skooms
      1:30 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Dude your Cardinals are DONE. They’ve already given up as has their fanbase. That stadium will be filled with BLUE!



  12. CombatMedic_98
    10:23 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    10-2 is pretty good season…



  13. jaws2
    10:44 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    Gran won’t beat ANY team in America by 50 points. We could be up 49 at the half and he’d call his normal play not to lose game in the second half!



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      1:46 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      No, we couldn’t be up 49 at the half…unless the defense scored 35 or more of our points.



  14. UK Maine-iac
    10:55 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    Gran is more conservative than a baptist preacher. I’m of the mind he should be demoted to punter’s coach.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      1:47 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Hell no, he’d ruin our punter….tell him to “just kick it normal…none of that rugby stuff”.



  15. dcforuk
    11:28 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    I think it is great that there is so much disappointment. All that means is that us fans actually thought we had a chance to win. QOTD: “Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket – safe, dark, motionless, airless – it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. The alternative to tragedy, or at least to the risk of tragedy, is damnation.” — C.S. Lewis It sucks to have your heart broken but it’s better than the alternative!



  16. makeitstop
    11:45 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    We have one reasonably certain win left. Two more we should win, but not playing the way we did the last 3 weeks. People can bitch about fans if they want but truth is, our offense is terrifyingly poor for 4.5 games. Maybe time to focus on beating Duke on the hardwood…



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      1:53 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Yep, the same people who bltch and moan about “fake fans” and “haters”, are the same ones that can’t be objective and honest about the teams we all root for. I’m more frustrated and pissed off about the quality guys on this year’s team that will be gone after this year, who barely got to enjoy success here largely because of inadequate coaching and play calling.



    • KYCat4EVER
      11:08 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Agree with your frustration KYFAN4LYFE! When national Media, and an NFL Scout, picks apart your Offensive Play Calling AND performance, and your team responds with the GRAN-ola game plan witnessed the last three weeks? It waisted some good offensive potential!



    • Skooms
      12:58 pm November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Whine whine whine! This team was picked 5th in the EAST!! 5.5 games was the over/under. It’s amazing how spoiled some of the fans have become after 9 games!



  17. CombatMedic_98
    11:47 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    Philosophy and football…



  18. dcforuk
    11:50 pm November 3, 2018 Permalink

    I would be very disappointed if we lost to UofL. I live next to UL fans, work next to UL fans, go to church with UL fans etc. I really want to win at TN, too! But, my S-M-T-W-R-F after a loss would be much worse after a UofL loss than a TN loss…..



    • JohnnyCheeseSticks
      12:37 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      I hear you. My pastor is a Tenn fan and a lot of the church are UL fans.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      1:54 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Sounds like you need to quit your job, move, and switch churches to me….



  19. kjd
    12:07 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    Well, when the run is being stuffed, and you’re scared to death of turning the ball so all you throw is safe throws, you’re going to struggle. How many pass play calls have resulted in poor throws it drops? The play call was correct, but execution was off. Wilson is a decent QB, but is not a player that will get you to the next level in the SEC.



  20. You Can Call Me Cal
    1:29 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    10 wins, 9 wins, 8 wins in the regular season. All things this program hasn’t had in the last 30 years. Georgia is the better team. We got whipped by the better team. But that doesn’t mean we’re no good. Look at what Missouri did to Florida. We’re still the second best in the East which again, is historic for this program.



    • notFromhere
      9:18 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Love seeing a sane post after all of the bullsht above it.

      To be a good winner you have to handle losing well. Not much of that here.

      To win that game UK needed the defense to play their best. It didn’t happen. They played well enough most of the time, but not for 60min. The offense was what it has been.



  21. Matt10
    4:35 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    Look no further than our first drive of the game, 3rd and 6, and Gran dials up that oh so creative run between the tackles. I knew right then the team would struggle because the OC wanted them to play with one hand tied behind their backs. Play calling simply unacceptable.



    • KYCat4EVER
      11:12 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Matt10… were you hiding inside my MAN CAVE watching this game? SPOT ON with you during this exact moment of the game! Instead of attacking Georgia at this key start of the game, Gran chose to show Georgia we were full of FEAR and TIMIDITY ! Huge mistake!



  22. timer2
    5:54 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    We lost to a better team, but I’m proud of the pride and effort the Cats showed today. We are light years ahead of where we were even two years ago. This is a special team and I believe the loss today will give them the resolve to win the next four.



  23. CellarDoorx06
    6:41 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    I just have the strangest feeling that the wheels totally came off the Big Blue wagon today. I will say this though, I think a LOT of those runs that Georgia busted out on, came at the fact that both Kash and Jordan have broken hands and were not able to do as much as they can. Other than that though, this Game was just miserable and it’s got me terrified that We’ve gotta go play in a place next Saturday We haven’t won at in close to 40 years against a Team that catches a lot of shit, but they are getting better with each passing week. To see Our DEFENSE get shredded as they did was utterly disheartening. Lets just admit this fact: We had played NO Team even near the level as Georgia is on this Season. We finally lined up against a legit SEC Title contender/possible PLAYOFF contender and the better Team won. Now am I saying that it was impossible for Us to have beaten the Georgia Team We played Yesterday, I’m definitely not saying that. We absolutely could have. Terry played a good Game but once again took too many RIDICULOUS sacks. Though, that opening return the Dawgs had early in the Game…I said right then to myself, “Here we go again.” it just felt like it completely sucked up that “there’s a miracle amidst” atmosphere We Fans had thrived on for the last Month and is now, sadly…no more. Again I’ll say that having 2 players with broken hands wearing casts didn’t help Us at all either. I just hope that the Guys play out this Season to the absolute extent of their abilities. We GO to Louisville too. People laugh these last two Games off but I guarantee you that Louisville will be treating that Game as their “Bowl Game” and anything can happen in a rivalry matchup. Sigh. Just gotta regroup, guys. GOTTA regroup.



    • makeitstop
      8:58 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      You hit it on the head… I for one didn’t see the D giving up 34 points although in fairness u couid hang 7 on special teams. I expected a lackluster offense which only scored when the coverage was soft, and if u told me it would be 20-3, I’d have believed it but 34? Yikes. UT is good enough to beat us – truth is everyone we play is good enough to beat us if we tackle like that and can’t develop a credible passing game. Calling Terry’s game good apart from stupid stupid sacks is generous. His TD pass absolutely could’ve been a pick 6 and anyone including lynn Bowden could make most the easy passes he dialed up. If they don’t fix the personnel they can’t fix the playcalling bc Terry throwing downfield will yield untimely turnovers just as sure as God made little green apples and Gran knows it and so do the DC’s. I for one am worried about a total collapse and lose 3 of last 4 and that would be a shame bc it’s avoidable!



    • Skooms
      1:04 pm November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Anyone of you who think UofL will treat the UK game as their bowl game needs to read the tea leaves again. They are DONE! Bobby is going to be let go right after that game, and UNLIKE Joker at UK, McElwain, and Muuschamp at FL, the UofL players want him gone. Players are transferring due to him being a total douche. He’s completely lost that team, and they don’t even want to be coached by him anymore. No matter how bad the coach is, it still comes down to the players liking him. UK played out their arse and it gained Joker another year after beating TN. UL will NOT be trying to repeat that scenario.



  24. UKFootballYall
    7:09 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    Good coaches make good decisions. I like Stoops, but after six seasons his decisions on everything from his coaching staff to which personnel to play is questionable, at best. Hence the conclusion, he is just an Ok coach.

    I will still support the team, the coach, and of course UK, but he’s not a mastermind that is ever going to outcoach anyone on the sideline. Need an example? If Lynn hadn’t inserted himself on the punt return last week or if C.J. didn’t insist on that final play things would not have turned out that way against Missouri. It wasn’t a good coaching decision, it was players overcoming the coaches. Oh well, still hoping for 10-2.



    • cathatter
      8:19 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      exactly! why was Bouvier back returning punts in this game? playing it safe was not an option to compete in this game.



  25. catsarerunnin
    7:12 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    For UK to have even been in the position of possibly being in the SEC championship game is huge for the program. It’s a big big step but to see “fans” posting their nonsense is just unbelievable. I’m not a huge football fan but I’ve enjoyed UK being relevant in football for the first time in years. If hardcore UK football fans can’t embrace that then something is wrong.



  26. blueblue
    7:21 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    And maybe 11-2 depending on who we get matched against in our bowl. When was the last time a Kentucky football team won 11 games in one season? None of us can remember. We were probably not alive yet. I’m going to google it to find out.



  27. eyebleedblue
    7:59 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    2 linebaxkers playing with one hand and the first punt return didn’t help the defense either.



    • KYFAN4LYFE
      8:13 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      While true, Georgia was playing without some of their best defensive players.



    • cathatter
      8:23 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      defense played really well! not their fault holding call wasnt called on punt return, not their fault they were on the field the entire game. Couldve given up 200 points, cause 17 points wasnt winning this game.



    • henderblue
      8:53 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      cathatter how can you say the defense played really well? They missed tackle after tackle. Our defensive line was man handled all day. They never put any type of pressure on Frohm, they were constantly pushed off the line and their running backs easily got pass them, where one handed linebackers were waiting to miss tackles and the secondary constantly tried to tackle guys from the waist up, rather than wrapping up their legs. As someone said in an earlier post, football is about blocking and tackling and the team that does that best wins. Our offense wasn’t great, but defense lost this game imo.



    • makeitstop
      9:03 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Henderblue is right. The coaches said the D was bad – the players said the played poorly, and our eyes weren’t Lyin’. They’ve been great all year, they’re banged up and yea I’m beginning to think more Chris Oates as long as Kash is not 100%… how long do those clubs stay on? How in the world do u shed blockers w that on? Forget tackling (which they kind of did) u can’t get in position to tackle it doesn’t look like losing that leverage.



    • RAGE
      9:39 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      You can blame it on the club hand if you want…. But when Holyfield I believe it was packed Kash on his back from three yards out… The club didn’t cause that it was just a superior athlete… Give him two hands he still gets ran over… just saying and I like Kash Daniels but not the same kind of athlete



    • notFromhere
      9:34 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Offense didn’t play well, but a hurry-up is useless when the refs keep you from snapping the ball til your opponent can get every sub on the field.

      Defense didn’t play well, but they were due a bad game.

      Officials would have kept them out of this one regardless. No penalties against georgia until they were in control of the game. Well timed penalties against the Cats to keep UK under their thumb. Phantom calls when necessary.

      They did not want UK playing Bama.



  28. brandles10
    8:20 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    I’m so confused as to why everyone is complaining. Georgia was/is a better team. That’s ok. I’m proud we are where we are. We have a great team. Wilson keeps getting better. The only thing I wish is that they would do more with Bowden. We have one of the best defensive lines. I will take a 10-2 year or even a 9-3 and be completely happy and proud of this team. Everything we have done this year has been amazing and I for one am very proud!



    • cathatter
      8:40 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      everyone knows uga is the better team – but lesser teams win all the time – its called an “upset”! Upsets only occur when the coaching staff can think out of the box and take greater risk. This coaching staff doesnt possess that capability. I think thats why people are upset. For example – in this game Bowden should have been back to return all punts & kick offs with a complete green light.



    • makeitstop
      9:05 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Yea if ur trying to make something happen why not go w Bowden on returns late when their legs are tired and holes open up? I get not exposing him the whole game and wearing him out but Mizzou was an L if he doesn’t put himself in.



    • notFromhere
      9:35 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

      Brandles10, that’s the spirit!! Hold on to that thinking



  29. KYCat4EVER
    8:35 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    Kentucky may be in the midst of a special season, but it’s not elite. It’ll take more special seasons to jump up to that top tier.” Well written Drew!



  30. notFromhere
    9:28 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    If the Cats win out, including their bowl game, it will be an elite level season.

    They’re in the SEC, not the Pac12, and will be playing a bowl opponent at least one tier above where they are in the SEC. Teams from the SEC always do (outside of the playoff). There are so many bowl tie ins that the SEC is always matched up with someone ranked higher or that finishes higher in another conference.

    Northwestern finished the regular season 9–3, 7–2 in Big Ten play to finish in second place in the West Division. UK finished the season 7–5, 4–4 in SEC play to finish in a tie for third place in the Eastern Division. Thats just ine example.

    Dont swim in the deep end if you’re gonna give up or have too much baggage weighing you down. So many fans and writers just aren’t ready for UK Football success



  31. cats646
    9:44 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    I’m still very proud of these boys!
    GO CATS!!!!
    Beat Tennessee!



  32. RAGE
    9:49 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    I hope we win out… But it will be tough game next weekend… Tennessee is getting better every week and teams seem to have a hangover after being so emotionally invested the week before… However I kind of expected what happen to happen… I mean Georgia had Bama on the ropes last year and honestly should have probably won if not for “SUPERMAN” I mean TUA… ah same thing… But if it makes us feel better Alabama will probably treat Georgia in the SEC Championship like Georgia treated us today



  33. RLK
    10:53 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    If the cats win 9 or more games this season, there should be a special event planned to recognize and celebrate.



  34. notFromhere
    11:24 am November 4, 2018 Permalink

    The dream is alive now. The 10% that have had the dream for decades, now know it can be had. There will be ups and downs, but the dream is not going to be stamped out. One game. That close.

    The dream is not dead. The dream is stronger