I get that UK has a bowl game next month that will be an awesome accomplishment for this team considering the start of the season. The fans should party their assess off wherever the game is. And the players should take it seriously and I have no doubt they will. But, for one of the few times in my time as a fan of this school, I’ll say this: I don’t care if they win, don’t think it changes how this season will be viewed, and doesn’t change the progress this program has made. Which is why my attention when it comes to the football program is completely at 2017. Because I truly think 2017 has all the makings of the best UK football season in modern history. Why? Look at how the schedule plays out:
September 2nd: at Southern Miss
-Yes, they won at Commonwealth this year. But let’s speak honestly here. Drew Barker was playing quarterback and the current offense was not even close to be installed. Oh, and that Southern Miss team that won in September? They ended up 6-6 and 4-4 in the Conference USA. They lost to UTSA, Charlotte, and Old Dominion by double figures. Point being, UK will likely be a 14-20 point favorite for this game. Lose it and we really don’t have anything to be excited about. I think UK likely rolls in this one.
September 9th: Eastern Kentucky
-They probably should have won in 2015 but this ain’t 2015 anymore. EKU went 3-8 this year. Kentucky is going to be able to pick a score on this one.
September 16th: at South Carolina
-Yes, Florida is the next week but I think this game could swing just how special this season could be. We clearly have controlled this series in the past 3 years but USC has turned this year into a pretty decent year considering the talent. Clemson showed everybody that there still is a long way to go for the Gamecocks and frankly as long as Will Muschamp is the coach, they have a ceiling of AVERAGE of how good they can be. This game reminds me of 2007 at Arkansas. A mid-level SEC program but a road game nonetheless. UK won that game and UK can absolutely win this game.
September 23rd: Florida
-Lets assume UK wins at South Carolina the previous week. If that happens, this will be the biggest UK home game in 10 years, since #1 LSU came to town. Discounting this year’s game, which obviously had QB issues, UK has been competitive with the Gators under Stoops AND Florida has some holes. Their offense has been anemic and as we say every year, UK is due to pull one of these out.
September 30th: Eastern Michigan
-Its the yearly MAC beatdown.
October 7th: Missouri
-If UK is 5-0 at this point, they are not losing this game. Missouri is floundering and UK has beat down on an opponent on their homefield like they did over the Tigers this year in forever. I think Missouri is becoming Vanderbilt.
October 14th: BYE WEEK
-The bye week comes at a perfect time. UK will have played 6 straight weeks. In a perfect situation the Cats are 6-0. It’s completely reasonable. But the back half of their schedule is more difficult with no gimmes. It will be nice for UK to get the off week to recover for the final stretch. And if they are 6-0 (or even 5-1), it could be a very special final 6 games.
October 21st: at Mississippi State
October 28th: Tennessee
November 4th: Ole Miss
November 11th: at Vanderbilt
November 18th: at Georgia
November 25th: Louisville
Now, here are the final 6 games. UK could lose any of those games. But as we sit now a little less than 1 year away from those games, they likely will be favored against Ole Miss and Vanderbilt and will have small spreads against Mississippi State and Tennessee. There is not a game on there that I would even come close to consider unwinnable. We saw this year that Georgia is completely winnable although winning their is tough. Louisville will still be good with Lamar Jackson.
But the point is the schedule is there for a special season going into November. The team is certainly there, on paper, to be competitive against any team not named Alabama on the schedule. And Alabama is dropped off the schedule for 2017 so that’s not a problem anymore. I am not predicting 12-0 or even 10-2 because all of us that have been fans know UK traditionally botches a game or two they shouldn’t. And despite the great win over Louisville, lets not forget the botching of the Georgia game and the Austin Peay first half just this month. This team hasn’t been perfect but sometimes you can just see something special is possible.