12 Days of Bowlmas: A 10-win season is elusive, but UK football is "here to break records"

by:Maggie Davis12/19/18


I don't have to be the one to tell you this Kentucky football team is special. Thanks to stars like Josh Allen and Benny Snell, fan favorites like Kash Daniel and CJ Conrad, reliable contributors like Bunchy Stallings and Mike Edwards and up-and-comers like AJ Rose and Lynn Bowden, the 2018-19 season has been one for the record books. And they're not done yet. This team has the chance to do what has only been done at Kentucky twice in school history: win ten games. It happened in 1950 and 1977, but the impressive double-digit win season has eluded the Wildcats for decades. And while it's been years in the making for UK fans, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for these seniors. "Getting the tenth win is extremely important for us. As a senior class, we want to go out on a positive note," Conrad said. "When we’re out there for an hour and a half, two hours [at practice], we’re taking it extremely seriously. We’re prepping to try and get a win." Thanks to a New Year's Day bowl game, the Cats get 15 extra practices to prepare for the matchup against Penn State. And it's in these extra practices, it seems, that the gravity of a potential 10-win season has clicked with the players. Coach John Schlarman, the team's current offensive-line coach and a former Kentucky player himself, has made sure to emphasize the impact a bowl win could have on the legacy of his own alma mater. "To hear Coach Schlarman talking about it, that’s when you really understand this team’s win is important for us, but it’s also important for the fans and for the people that played here that didn’t get the opportunity to win ten games," O-lineman Bunchy Stallings said. "And to be able to be in this position to try and go and get that tenth win – it’s amazing." It's not an easy matchup by any means - Penn State is a powerhouse of a program with a lot of name recognition, meaning the experts (and even the so-called experts in Vegas) could be picking against the Cats (as if that's anything new to this Kentucky team). And yes, finishing with a 9-4 record would still be excellent, not to mention the first time a Kentucky team hit nine wins since 1984. But, of course, that's not the goal. "We’ve been to two straight bowl games and haven’t gotten a win...It doesn’t feel good when you work this hard throughout the whole season, get a big accomplishment like making a bowl game, then you go out there and you lose it," Stallings said. "That’s not what we’re here for; that’s not what we want to do. We want to go down there and execute and play as a team and bring that confidence forward for next year’s season." A nine-win season is more than respectable and, I'd argue, better than a lot of us predicted. But a 10-win season, especially one that could include a bowl-game victory over a traditional "football school" like Penn State, not to mention a streak-ending win over Florida and a beatdown against Louisville? Well, that'd be something truly remarkable. "10-3. Not a lot of teams from Kentucky can say that. Not a lot of other teams can say they’ve won a bowl game," Josh Allen said. "We’re here to break records, and I stand by that." You heard the man.



Discuss This Article

Comments have moved.

Join the conversation and talk about this article and all things Kentucky Sports in the new KSR Message Board.