Despite losses, Cats can still have historic season

Published 7:00 am Wednesday, November 10, 2021

A 6-0 start put Kentucky in great shape to think about everything from the national championship playoffs to a New Year’s Day bowl game to a 10- or 11-win season.

Now consecutive losses to No. 1 Georgia, Mississippi State, and Tennessee 45-42 when UK had 99 plays and over 600 yards of offense have deflated much of the Kentucky fan base.

However, with games left against Vanderbilt, New Mexico State and Louisville, Kentucky can still have a historic season.

Kentucky has won 10 or more games three times — 1950, 1977, and 2018 — in 129 years. Kentucky has won nine games three times — 1904, 1909, and 1984 — in 129 years. Kentucky has won eight games six times — 1947, 1951, 1976, 2006, 2007, and 2019 — in 129 years.

That means Kentucky has won eight or more games only seven times since 1950. If the Cats win out, they would be 9-3 going into a bowl game. Even if UK wins just two of the next three, it would be 8-4 going into a bowl game.

Kentucky coach Mark Stoops made no excuses after Tennessee shredded his defense even easier than Mississippi State did a week earlier. In the last two games, opposing quarterbacks have completed 51 of 59 passes for 660 yards and five touchdowns with no interceptions.

“We’ve been a part of so many games where we’ve played so good on one side of the ball, maybe defensively and just come up a little bit short on the other side,” Stoops said after the Tennessee game.

“We’re a team. We’ll stick together. They’re all big boys. We can all handle the criticism and the things that come with it.”

Senior defensive end Abule Adabi-Fitzgerald, who got the first two sacks of his career against Tennessee and also forced a fumble, said not to worry about the Cats losing faith going into Saturday night’s game at Vanderbilt.

“Go in and just have faith, and the only way we are going to have faith is keeping our mindset up and keep getting better. There’s nothing else to it,” he said.