With the 32-31 overtime loss last night to Western Kentucky, the Kentucky Wildcats football program lost their first game against a non-BCS league team since 2004 when they lost to Ohio University. In the heat of the moment, you sit there and watch the game unfold before your very eyes. You’ve rode the roller-coaster of emotions through each quarter of play. The frustration evident, and the blood pressure rising.
The ultimate back-breaker occurs. Almost teasingly, Kentucky forced overtime and then scored first. Now you have a legitimate chance to win. On a questionable flag thrown against the Wildcat defense, the heat rises again. The frustration mounts as Western Kentucky gets to line up at the UK 2-yard line and then walk into the endzone for another score. After a Western Kentucky timeout, you are on the edge of your seat as the offense returns to the field for a two point conversion. Despite all that has happened, you can still win this game with one stop. You see those hopes and aspirations spiral down the drain as Western Kentucky fools every Wildcat defender and trots another score into the endzone for the game winner.
To watch the game, I hope everyone had their blood pressure medication standing by. The game was hard fought, competitive, and each team showed a lot of heart. But these moral victories for Kentucky do not cover up the sting of losing to Western Kentucky. The bottom line is the fact that the Hilltopper defense pushed around the Kentucky offensive line all night long. The game proved that Kentucky cannot rely on it’s offense to outscore a quality opponent. The game also proved what we already knew, the Wildcat defense seemed non-existent.
If Kentucky cannot match up against Western Kentucky on either side of the ball, what are they going to do when it comes to the SEC schedule? There is not one single SEC school that would allow WKU to compete, and sometimes dominate them on either side of the ball. Clearly, the rest of the schedule is heavily against Kentucky and head coach Joker Phillips. Even if the result of the WKU game had been in favor of the Wildcats, would it have really mattered? The answer is a very resounding negative. A win against Kent State, WKU, and maybe Samford is not going to save the season or Joker Phillips. The loss just pours the first gallon of salt into an open, festering wound.
Without a humongous improvement in effort and skill on both sides of the ball, Kentucky only has one more game they could win. The first two games gave us the new hurry up offense that is allowing Max Smith to be 3rd in the nation in passing. He’s completing 68.5% of his passes for 966 yards and 8 touchdowns. Max Smith played an “okay” game against Western Kentucky, but threw four interceptions. That’s like saying he pitched well, but he gave up four grand-slams. The optimism was there, but now it’s going to take more than a microscope to find anything like that surrounding the football program now.
I hope you still stick with this program and continue to root them on throughout the season. I know that I will, but I know the road is looking to be one to forget. With Kentucky football, they always seem to pull off a big upset. They are always due for one big win, and last year they got two. Beating South Carolina and snapping the streak against Tennessee was something to remember and cherish. I hope that this football team can give the fan base one of those games this year against a quality opponent. Giving up on this program or calling for the job of Joker Phillips is not going to solve anything. It’s not fair to those kids and the coaches to lose their support. I know the power of the BBN, and we can do incredible things. We still bleed blue, but we are sure seeing a whole lot of red.
Filed Under: Football
About the Author: Writer for StraitCats.com, lifelong UK fan, college sports enthusiast. Twitter: BrianLewis_SP