So many (maybe too many) times the UK football team would take the field for its final regular season game against Tennessee with a lot riding on the outcome. Not only were the Cats seeking their first win over the Volunteers since 1984 but also trying to either become bowl eligible or increase the odds that the bowl they did attend was more beach than Birmingham.
This season, UK is 4-6 heading into Saturday’s match up with Tennessee at Commonwealth Stadium. No bowl hopes AND facing a down Vols squad that still has a shot at the postseason.
The question facing UK fans Saturday: to storm or not to storm? If Kentucky beats Tennessee for the first time since “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was a #1 song and gas was a nickel (OK, 1984 wasn’t that long ago), will the fans pour on to the field and celebrate?
The die-hards -- and the possibly lubricated student section -- may leave the stands. However, after a huge step back this year on the football field, UK fans may place more focus on Saturday night’s basketball game when Kentucky hosts Portland. I think that’s a school. Or it could be a pickup team from LaPorte Park.
“(Not going to a bowl game) is a positive,” spun UK head football coach Joker Phillips Monday. His reasoning was that with no post-season, there’s no month-long preparation and that gets his coaching staff an opportunity to go out earlier than usual and recruit. Not sure what Joker is selling after this season other than playing time.
One longtime Kentucky fan told me all the “Big Blue Nation” wants is a football team that can pick up 7 wins, go to a decent bowl and give the fan base something to cheer for before basketball really gets going. Hard to cheer after a 30-point loss to Vanderbilt and a coulda-woulda-shoulda against Georgia.
Maybe a win over Tennessee on the football field Saturday will be a consolation prize. Either way, a 50-point win in Rupp Arena later that night will have the Wildcat faithful looking forward to March rather than mourning a lost football season. Again.
Photo: Courtesy of UK Athletics