Owner of the second most famous U of L affiliated Italian Restaurant
Last week, we posted the final installment of the pseudo-annual KSR Kentucky Football Position-by-Position Preview. Unless you are a complete and utter dufus, you should now know all there is to know about the 2010 Football Cats. With that subject now mastered, it's time to turn our collective eye to Kentucky's 2010 opponents. Pursuant to my newly inked, incentive-laden deal with El CapitÃ¡n Jones, I will now present a three part preview of the upcoming season, including a thumbnail sketch of each of the twelve speed bumps that line that Cats' road to Atlanta.
Today, we look at September, and the first 1/3 of the schedule.
Game 1: September 4th, at Louisville
On Labor Day weekend, the newly renovated Big Slice will open its doors again following a long off-season of storing Papa John Schnatter's make-up. New head coach Charlie Strong will boldly attempt to follow in the footsteps of the legendary Steve Kragthrope, who will be honored for his unique contributions to the UK program this Fall. Louisville returns 15 starters, which may or may not be a positive for the Cards, as those starters went 4 and 7 in 2009, including an almost inconceivable 1 and 5 in the fantastically mediocre Big East.
As for the big game itself, I think the outcome is very much in doubt. Kentucky appears to have a superior overall depth and talent
, but Louisville is a dangerous football team. Charlie Strong has brought the Urban Meyer spread offense with him to Louisville, and the Cards has a number of talented skill position players, led by running back Victor Anderson. If U of L gets decent quarterback play from either Justin Burke or Adam Froman, Louisville will score on a young Kentucky defense.
(A defense with precious little history of slowing down spread attacks.) On the other side of the ball, Louisville's defense is bad, especially up front.
Look for Kentucky to attempt to control the ball on the ground against the Cards' undersized defensive front. Ultimately, this game will likely be determined by a crucial turnover or big play in special teams.
I realize that is incredibly clichÃ©, but if you look at the history of the series, it almost always comes to fruition. With Kentucky's superior depth and greater continuity in the coaching staff and offensive and defensive systems, the Cats should be the ones to make that big play, rather than suffer from it.
Prediction: Kentucky 28 Louisville 24
Game 2: September 11th, Western Kentucky
Wildcat fans will greet a much-needed break from anxiety in Kentucky's home opener. Western Kentucky went 0 and 12 in 2010, including 0 and 8 in the Sun Belt.
The Toppers defense was not exactly the steel curtain, giving up 60 or more points on three occasions. All of this may cause some Western supporters to wonder whether that whole move to Division 1-A thing may have been a bit ambitious. On the bright side, the trip to Commonwealth won't be the most daunting of the season for new head coach Willie Taggart and the Toppers. Western opens the year on September 4th at Nebraska. Yikes.
The Cats have played Western Kentucky on one previous occasion. In that 2008 meeting, Kentucky had the better of it, wining 41-3. It may be slightly closer in 2010, but Kentucky will win comfortably.
Prediction: Kentucky 45 Western Kentucky 14
Game 3: September 18th, Akron
The dreaded Zips of Akron travel to Lexington on September 18th, led by new coach Rob Ianello. (Not sure what significance this has, but Kentucky's first three opponents of 2010 each have new coaches.) Ianello was previously the interim coach at Notre Dame following the firing of Charlie Weiss, but presumably moved on to Akron to coach at a program with a shot at relevance in modern college football.
Lebron's hometown team has been bad the last several years, including a 3 and 9 mark in 2009. Akron particularly struggled on the offensive end, finishing 113th nationally in total offense, which must have really gotten the Zip fans rocking at venerable old InfoCision Stadium
. (I'm not making that name up.) Kentucky fans will pause to root for the Zips in their previous week match-up against Wildcat nemesis Gardner-Webb
. A note from Coach Gillispie: watch the back-door cut.
Kentucky and other BCS programs have struggled with MAC teams over the years. The Zips, however, are a bottom-tier MAC team, and Kentucky should be able to name the score.
Prediction: Kentucky 38 Akron 17
Game 4: September 25th, at Florida
And now for something completely different.
The Cats get the SEC portion of the schedule kicked off with a daunting late September invasion of the Swamp. Kentucky will face a Gator program that stands 26 and 2 overall and 15 and 1 in SEC play over the last two seasons.
Though Robo-back Tim Tebow has departed for the NFL, Florida's offense will be as high octane as ever. Look for junior John Brantley, a more natural passer than Tebow, to lead the league in passing yardage in 2010.
The defense, which lost 6 starters to the NFL, may take a minor step back due to a reduction in experience, but the talent will not diminish appreciably. And if it has, none of us will know, as Urban Meyer has banished all humankind from Gator practices for fear of "scum bags and internet people." Good to see the indefinite leave of absence has really mellowed Urb.
There was a time when Kentucky's visits to Florida were seemingly pointless death marches. I remember very well consecutive visits in the late Curry era that resulted in a combined score of 138-7.
The match-up now is not nearly as one-sided as it once was, and there is no reason Kentucky can't make a respectable showing. Still, an upset may be too much to ask.
Prediction: Florida 41 Kentucky 24
So there you have it. 3 and 1 through the first month of the season. What do you think? Urban Meyer wants to hear the thoughts and predictions of you "internet people" in the comments section.