Kentucky plays its final home SEC game tomorrow when the Vanderbilt Commodores come to Lexington. It seems there were so many times in recent history that UK needed a win over Vandy to become bowl eligible, but now, the roles are reversed. A Commodore win over UK Saturday will get Vandy (4-4, 2-3 in SEC) a step closer to a possible post-season berth. Kentucky (1-8, 0-6 in SEC) is just playing out the season but has a chance to pick up its first SEC win of the year.
The good news for Kentucky: last week, they gave up 273 total yards to Missouri, the lowest the defense had yielded all season. The bad news: Missouri still won 33-10 and the Tigers were so excited to win their first SEC game, t-shirts were commissioned to commemorate the occasion. T-shirts. Seriously.
UK head coach Joker Phillips is handling one of the worst seasons in Kentucky history with some gallows humor. This week, when asked to give his reaction about fans and some media calling for his firing, he quipped, “I'm sure they are. I was coming over here today, and I got in the car, and my seat was hot. And I looked up, and I'd hit the seat warmer.”
Phillips seat started heating up with UK’s home loss to Western Kentucky on September 15th, the week after a 47-14 win over Kent State that looked dismal in the first half before UK’s offense ran wild in the second half.
No doubt injuries have played a huge part in Kentucky’s downfall, and that horse has been beaten, revived, and beaten to death again all season. Let’s move on.
While it may be a stretch to call the remainder of Kentucky’s schedule “winnable” since we’ve seen the Wildcats get embarrassed by a bad Arkansas team, let’s just say it’s possible if not probable.
Looking at a couple of common opponents, Vanderbilt has beaten Missouri but was blown out against Georgia, a team UK notched (at least) a moral victory against October 20th. Maybe home field advantage will play into UK’s favor.
UK will then take a week off and host Southern Conference member Samford on November 17th. So far, the Bulldogs are 5-3 (3-3 in the SoCon). Then it’s the season finale at Tennessee on November 24th. Kentucky fans will remember last year’s 10-7 win over the Volunteers, the Wildcats first win over UT since 1984. Fans may also remember the talk that despite UK’s losing season, the momentum may carry over to 2012. Yeah, that didn’t happen.
So what if UK runs the table? Will 4-8 be enough for Phillips to keep his job? It would certainly be a little more difficult for UK athletic director Mitch Barnhart to jettison Joker. If the next three games turn out like the 7 of the last 8, the conversation remains the same.
Photo Courtesy: Mr. SEC