This week two SEC schools, Auburn and Georgia, announced that stadium capacities have been limited to approximately 20% in 2020. With most school’s expected to follow a similar path of protocols, here’s how it could help the Kentucky Wildcats.
1. UK has lost 17 straight in Knoxville
We all know that UK hasn’t won at Neyland since 1984. For UK to win, something needs to be different. Perhaps that something is having 102,455 fans stay home this year. Neyland has the fifth largest capacity in the country and way too much orange in the stadium. Perhaps not hearing Rocky Top sung every time the Vols gain a yard may be enough motivation to spur the Cats on to victory. Smokey being banned wouldn’t hurt, either.
2. The swamp is LOUD, and Florida fans will be out for revenge
In 2008 my brother and I went down to the Swamp to watch UK get destroyed by Tim Tebow, Aaron Hernandez, Joe Haden, Carlos Dunlap, Percy Harvin and company 63-5. The Gators blocked two punts early on and that was that. I was blown away by how loud the crowd was. It was a noon game and Kentucky wasn’t a highly regarded opponent, but the fans were loud from the jump. Sometimes in Lexington people get loud and stand on 3rd down. During that game the fans were loud on every single defensive play. The fans would also be out for revenge after seeing Terry Wilson, Lynn Bowden Jr., and Benny Snell knock off their team during UK’s most recent trip. Having no fans in the stands certainly helps Kentucky’s chances, plus our team wouldn’t have to see that stupid gator chomp.
Another bonus is this game has been moved from its normal September slot to late November. UK players won’t have to deal with cramping in the 2nd half as they normally do when they head down to the Swamp in the summer.
3. Auburn fans are excited
Auburn fans are pumped about Bo Nix, and hosting the conference’s marquee game of opening week. They are riding high after last year’s season ending win in the Iron Bowl and expectations of a top 10 caliber team this season. Auburn fans will remember that Kentucky beat them the last time they went to Auburn (Randall Cobb, 2009) and will be ready for vengeance. A much quieter Jordan-Hare would make things a lot easier for the Cats.
4. Kentucky has never won in Tuscaloosa
Alabama had won 31 straight home games until falling to Joe Burrow’s LSU Tigers on Nov 9. Let’s face it, for UK to pull the upset over Alabama, something needs to be out of the ordinary. 101,821 fans staying at home instead of filling Bryant-Denny stadium would be a start.
5. Georgia brought a ton of fans to Lexington in 2018
I attended the Georgia game at Kroger Field back in 2018 and sat on the Georgia side and it certainly was the Georgia side. I had red all around me and I wasn’t even in the visitor section. UGA fans travel, especially when they have a national title caliber team as they do this season. Think about the record ticket prices for the UGA / Notre Dame game in South Bend a few years ago, and even the ticket prices for their game with the Cats back in 2018. Don’t get me wrong, UK would still have the home field advantage and the majority of the crowd, but I’ll sacrifice that advantage for the 4 reasons mentioned above.
6. UK is a favorite to win their 4 other home games
The Cats could be able to get past the 2 Mississippi schools, South Carolina and Vandy even without fans cheering them on at Kroger Field. ESPN’s FPI (as terrible as it is) has the Big Blue as favorites in all these contests. Plus, the games fans want most to win are the games mentioned in my top 5 reasons.
Having limited to no fans may be a key factor in UK picking up some tough road victories. Go Cats.
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