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BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Still Good with UK Non-Conference Schedule?

This year Kentucky plays its first non-conference true road game against someone not named Louisville since 2005.  Take away Louisville and Indiana and that year goes all the way back to 1996 against Cincinnati.  In most of the 2000’s, UK’s non-conference schedule has been quite tame.  And once Indiana was dropped UK basically played Louisville and 3 bums and Louisville has been a bum a few years too.

I’ve always argued that if the fanbase and this program wants to elevate itself up that it will need to take some risks in scheduling.  With the permanent addition of a 12th game a few years back, elite teams have started consistently taking much greater risks early in the season with the belief that 1 loss doesn’t entirely eliminate you from national title contention.  But should UK do its best to begin moving in that direction?

What you’ll find is the elite programs in the SEC have a much easier time landing huge games.  Duh, right?  People want to see Alabama and Florida play the big games.  Just look at the top non-conference, non-rival game for the Top 7 programs in the SEC:

Alabama: Florida St (neutral)
Auburn: at Clemson
Florida: Michigan (neutral)  
Georgia: at Notre Dame 
LSU: BYU (neutral)
Tennessee: Georgia Tech (neutral)
Texas A&M: at UCLA

But what about the bottom half of the league historically?  Obviously UK can’t pull off playing Michigan in a nationally televised neutral site game.  But outside of rivals, UK’s best non-conference game this year is Southern Miss.  Does that match up with how the rest of the “have-nots” are scheduling this year?

Arkansas: TCU (neutral)
Kentucky: at Southern Miss   
Mississippi St: BYU
Missouri: Purdue
Ole Miss: at California
South Carolina: at NC State  
Vanderbilt: Kansas State

So here is my question: would you trade any of the non-conference games the other 6 teams above have with Southern Miss?  Would you rather UK take a bigger chance and travel to play a California or NC State, host a BYU or Kansas State, or do you want Louisville to be the best non-conference game each year?

Future Non-Conference Opponents

2018: Central Michigan, Murray St, MTSU, Louisville
2019: Toledo, Eastern Michigan, UT-Martin, Louisville
2020: Eastern Michigan, Louisville

Article written by Bryan the Intern

18 Comments for BTI’s Rants and Ramblings: Still Good with UK Non-Conference Schedule?

  1. adamdw05
    8:47 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    It would be nice to see a school we’ve heard of on the non-conference schedule. The problem is that 2 of the past 3 years, we’ve had 5 wins. Host someone like K-State, or go to somewhere like BYU, and that number has a significant chance of dropping one more. As a school fighting to get to 6 wins year in and year out, it’s going to be hard to schedule any tougher opponents. Florida and Alabama don’t have to worry about that because they’re good enough to get into a bowl game. They aspire for more. Our goals are different, and therefore, until we are consistently winning 7 or 8 games per season, we must continue to schedule easy non-conference wins.

    • ukjaybrat
      8:50 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

      exactly, the best of the best have to play each other not just because they can but because it improves their resume and standing for the playoff but also hurts the other guys chances (if you win obviously).

    • Agreed. You have to crawl before you can walk, walk before you can run.

  2. 3Goggles
    9:02 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    String together 3+ consecutive bowl appearances along with competitive games against the elites and then youre ready for tougher non-con games. Tougher games help you get to the next level. We just need continuity with stoops and co and consistent winning first. Go Cats!

  3. BobKYCats
    9:38 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    There are three scenarios here. Let’s play them out:

    1. Last year was an illusion. We’re still awful. Bring on the (Charlotte) 49ers.

    2, We maintain the status quo (continuing to fight for 6 or 7 wins each year). A series with Indiana or Virginia would be an entertaining thought in this scenario.

    3. Coach Stoops is building a winner (hopefully we’ll see proof of that this year). If we start winning 8 or 9 games each year and aspire for more, like Alabama and Florida, then maybe you talk about a home-and-home or a neutral site game with the Iowas and the K-States of the world.

    *4 (not gonna happen any time soon) Kentucky becomes an elite program under Coach Stoops. Bring on the Buckeyes.

    • 3Goggles
      9:41 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

      Id love to get to the point where we are not only challenging the buckeyes on the recruiting trail but also on the football field.

    • runningunnin.454
      9:59 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

      I tend to agree with the above comments; this question is premature right now; however,
      “Awful”…..that’s a stretch.
      Every team should know their limitations and schedule games that will be competitive; maybe USC should not have scheduled ‘Bama last year…they were slaughtered, and we played the Tide better than the Trojans did.
      And, I doubt UL thought we were awful.

    • I don’t think Bob was saying we were awful. He may have forgotten to add the word “possible”, as in “There are three possible scenarios here”.

    • BTW, I’ll believe when I see it as far as UK football becoming elite, but if we did, can you imagine how epic a game with OSU could be with all the Ohio players we’re getting? Wow.

  4. webdis
    10:12 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    Our schedule is not as bad as this list makes it seem. Only 4 schools have a Power 5 non-conference rival (Florida-Florida St, Georgia-Georgia Tech, South Carolina-Clemson, Kentucky-Louisville). Most of the others are only playing 1 power 5 school (the one listed above).

  5. John Henry
    10:46 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    I don’t have a problem with our schedule. Most of the 7 games in your example are made for National TV. Four are at neutral sites. If we win consistently and win big we will be invited to some of these neutral site made for TV games. We have to crawl, then walk and the we can run. I am patient and look forward to our schedule as is and with wins we can advance up the schedule ladder

  6. Teamhhc1
    11:07 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    It wasn’t to many years ago when we were playing Clemson in bowl games. We can be just as competitive.

  7. SauconyKinvara
    11:16 am August 3, 2017 Permalink

    I would like to see us play Virginia Tech. They’re usually near the top of the ACC, but would most likely be a mid pack SEC team. UK fans would enjoy the experience of a game in Blacksburg (one of the best places I’ve ever seen a game). We’d also have the Jerry Claiborne connection with them.

    • D0nc0smic
      12:04 pm August 3, 2017 Permalink

      This is great idea, 5 hours isn’t that bad for a road trip. I will note that with their new coach VT is likely to continue to get better the next few seasons, but hopefully Kentucky will as well. This would also make Kyle Tucker very very happy.

  8. easy
    1:39 pm August 3, 2017 Permalink

    I think its time to improve the schedule, but BTI misses the strongest arguement – the mid level schools we play now won’t necessarily agree to just travel to Lexington and collect their check anymore, they want home and homes. So rather than going to Hattiesburg or Ypsilanti, why not go to Bloomington, West Lafayette, Charlottesville, Winston-Salem, Lawrence, etc? Or meet them on a neutral site like UL is doing this year.

  9. tnlongdrvr
    6:32 pm August 3, 2017 Permalink

    you make this argument every year. in my opinion, it is stupid for UK to play another hard opponent. use alabama as an example. yes, they play florida state, did you bother to see the rest of their schedule? they play fresno state, colorado state and the always powerful mercer bears. UK plays UL, drop them and play another tough opponent. look at the schools you listed. auburn plays ga southern, mercer and lousianna monroe, if suk didn’t play ul every year it would be different. i guess ul doesn’t count as a tought out of conference opponent.

    • easy
      7:33 pm August 3, 2017 Permalink

      The other three SEC east teams with an ACC rival play an extra power 5 team this year. South Carolina plays Clemson and NC St, Georgia plays Georgia Tech and Notre Dame, Florida plays FSU and Michigan. Seriously, you’re ok with wasting our time traveling to Southern Miss and Eastern Michigan over playing a home and home or neutral site game with a low level power 5 team?

      I understood when it was about both winning easy games AND getting as many games at home as possible for revenue purposes, but if we must go on the road (which is the case nowadays) at least don’t make it an embarrassing opponent