Five to Thrive (Or Survive): Important Early Local Pigskin Matchups

footballoldThe Cats have gone kudzu. The Bluegrass State is overgrown with billboards galore, heralding the new, improved Mark Stoops era. It’s a new dawn, no more mediocrity, etc, etc

UK has two matchups in the season’s first three weekends that will give a clue as to exactly how quick the resurgence shall kick into gear.

The Cards are the nation’s new darlin’. But they’re stuck with a lame duck of a schedule, which must be handled with dispatch, if U of L is to maintain any of the acclaim post-season in which it is basking before kickoff.

U of L has an opening matchup that has trap written all over it.

The Toppers haven’t been this excited about a sports season since Bobby Rascoe was ballin’ for Uncle Ed Diddle. (If you are too young to understand the references, ask your uncle.) They’ve lucked into having one of the five best coaches in all of college pigskin roaming the Bowling Green sidelines.

Western Kentucky’s first two games will reveal the extent of Bobby Petrino’ legerdemain.

Even the folks in Bloomington are considering football. Okay, a little bit. It’s Year III of the Kevin Wilson era, and the Hoosiers are making some Most Improved Lists.

IU’s 2d game of the season should provide a clue.

There are five fascinating games in the upcoming season’s first three weeks. At least for football fans in Kentuckiana.

A quick preview (in chronological order).

BlueNationKentucky vs. Western Kentucky (Nashville) 8/31.  Willie Taggert is off to pastures he would deem greener than Bowling Green, South Florida. Joker Phillips is now a position coach in Gainesville. Last year, the former’s guys bested the latter’s guys on the gutsiest of calls in OT, in Lexington, thereby sealing Joker’s fate as a Dead Man Walking. The Cats beat only Samford with an “m” the rest of the way.

It’s a new era at both schools. Kentucky’s savior is named Mark Stoops. At Western, it’s the intriguing presence of offensive savant Bobby Petrino. The game is on a neutral field in NashVegas.

The question is whether Stoops can add two more points of value than Petrino.

I’m not sure what quality of football will be displayed on the gridiron. But, for psychological drama, it won’t get any better than this for the rest of the entire college pigskin season.

Ohio University @ Louisville 9/01. (Because we’re always about U of L vs UK around here, no matter the subject, here’s an interesting tidbit, signifying probably nothing. The last non-BCS school to beat the Wildcats before last season’s L to the Toppers was Ohio.)

Like I said, U of L’s focus shall be tested from the opening kickoff. The Bobcats won 9 last year and won the Independence Bowl, their fifth post season game during the 8 year tenure of Frank Solich. He coached Nebraska, you know? They beat Penn State last campaign in yet another of those MAC early season “upsets” over a big boy.

Louisville “should” roll. But the Cards have to prove they can handle life as the overdog. That they can manufacture the success they expect.

For Louisville to make any legit noise this coming season, the Cards need to throttle every school they play.

We’ll get an idea in Week #1 if Charlie Strong’s charges are up to the task of unreal expectations.

petrinoWestern Kentucky @ Tennessee 9/07. Just for a moment, let’s say Bobby Petrino leads the Toppers to their second W in a row over UK in its opener. Let’s say Charlie Strong replacement Butch Jones enjoys a victorious beginning of his Rocky Top career against Austin Peay.

And let’s say Petrino masterminds a second shocker in a row in Knoxville.

The question becomes: Will Petrino finish the season in Bowling Green? Or jump to a BCS school in the ACC or SEC or Big 12 that felt justified firing its coach a couple of weeks into the season?

What makes this so intriguing is that such a scenario isn’t that farfetched, given Petrino’s predilections and the hair trigger mentality of today’s ADs.

Indiana @ Navy 9/07. Yeah, okay, you’re right. Nobody cares about this besides Rick Bozich. Nevermind.

soundoffLouisville @ Kentucky 9/14. Stoops is still playing with a deck of less than 52 cards. But, suppose the Cats whip up on Western and Miami (Ohio). Confidence will be up. The stands will be jammed with a BBN, frothing at the mouth. Literally.

The Cards show up a might cocky, having chewed up and spit out their first two foes. They’re feeling their oats more than they should.

There’s a reason they call these rivalry games.

One guy’s opinion — mine — this is far from a gimme for the Cardinals.

– Seedy K

Post a Comment

Your email is never shared. Required fields are marked *