IRA COMBS: UK's Mid-Season Report Card is Solid "A" at 5-1 if the Cats Stop ULM; Discussion on Possi
By Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media Services Inc.
They say you're not supposed to tout yourself in the business of sports journalism especially in your own column. Well, I’m going to anyway because I’ve taken some barbs and eaten a little crow over the years so I’m going to toot my own horn.
Maybe it was pure luck. Maybe it was 40-plus years of watching and dissecting college football talent. Anyhow, most people who read this column and/or listen to me on the sports talk show circuit across the Commonwealth snickered long and loud back in July when I was the first and only member of the media contingent at the time to take a leap of faith on this 2014 UK football team and its coach Mark Stoops and predict a 6-6 bowl eligible season.
Then, after witnessing Patrick Towles and this new crop of play makers Stoops has brought on board compete in their first two games, I was so impressed that I took another step and wrote a column about the possibilities of UK football setting at 5–1 at the mid-season point of the 12-game regular season schedule.
That was about the time I had a few fans respond on Twitter, by e-mail, and various other media opportunities that I was ready to have a straightjacket wrapped around me to protect me from myself.
Now neither one of those astute predictions has happened yet but going into the Louisiana Monroe game at CWS this Saturday (12:00 noon, SEC TV Network) I ask you to raise your hand if you think both predictions can come to fruition now.
It is becoming glaringly obvious to me as each game comes and goes for UK that the obvious upgrades in speed, athleticism, and size aren't the only improvements Mark Stoops has brought to Lexington. The two intangibles that you can’t put a number on and definitely never shows anywhere in the stats or on the scoreboard but is imperative to have to win college football games which UK has been missing for several years and that is mental toughness and will to win.
Both of these two traits can be attributed to Kentucky’s two SEC wins so far as much as anything.
As the sun was setting Sunday evening when the weekly college football polls were announced, the folks over at ESPN.com who project each week which NCAA Division I team will receive a bowl bid and where to finally jumped on the UK bandwagon. Each of ESPN’s two bowl projection gurus (Mark Schlabach and Brett McMurphy) predicted UK would get a bid to the post season with one being in the Duck Commander Independence Bowl against Pittsburgh and the other predicting the bid would be in the Birmingham Bowl vs. Memphis.
Now it's a little to early for BBN to jump on the bowl projection bandwagon, absolutely, but then again I can’t say it is as far fetched as last year's 40–0 hoops talk.
SEC Football Tidbits
No. 1. So far that late season game which normally sets up the SEC championship between Alabama and Auburn, the Iron Bowl, may take a back seat this year to the Egg Bowl between Ole Miss– Mississippi State.
No. 2. National pollsters still having trouble getting on the Stoops Troops bandwagon but UK did finally receive four votes in AP poll and 11 votes in USA Today Coaches poll.
No. 3. Again raise your hand if you expected UK–Mississippi State-Ole Miss to be a collective 14–1 going into Week 7 of the season.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverge of UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball. You can also follow me on twitter at @combsbrothers5.