By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky opens the football season Saturday and for months we’ve been speculating on how many games the Cats can win and what the biggest games of the year are.
Many have the home game with Florida Sept. 14 followed by games at Mississippi State and South Carolina as the key to the season. Win at least one and UK should be okay. Win two or three and the Cats would be great. Lose two or three and the season could be in jeopardy. That’s the logic many have.
Not me. My three biggest games are home games with Missouri and Tennessee followed by a game at Vanderbilt. Those are games 8-9-10.
My reasoning is that if UK gets off to a 4-1 or 3-2 start, then winning those three games could give the Cats another remarkable season. But if the Cats start 3-2 or even 2-3, winning those three games will be needed to get to seven or eight wins.
Beating Tennessee is never easy for UK. The Cats have four wins in a row over Missouri but many expect the Tigers to win at UK. And Vandy returns a ton of skilled players off a team that averaged 28 points per game last year. I don’t think winning at Vandy is a given like many do but I think winning at Vandy is something UK has to do to have at least a good season or maybe another special season.
And also I am a bit perplexed by the anxiety so many UK fans have about the opener Saturday against Toledo, a team that went 7-6 last year. Kentucky plays Eastern Michigan the second week and the prevailing thought is that will be a much easier game than the opener against Toledo. However, don’t forget that last season one of Toledo’s losses was 28-26 to EASTERN MICHIGAN.
Eastern Michigan returns seven of its top eight receivers and will likely start a quarterback who threw for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns as a backup last year. But on defense they lost six senior starters and another junior to the NFL — and that includes the top two tacklers. They have a veteran secondary and are counting on junior college transfers to bolster the play at linebacker.
So while I have no doubts UK will beat Eastern Michigan, maybe just don’t count it as a gimme compared to Toledo.