IRA COMBS: Cats Now Looking Ahead to Mississippi State After Embarrassment at LSU's Death Valley
By Ira D. Combs
Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.
Many people across college football and I mean well respected members of the media and several of the retired coaching fraternity who specialize in analyzing today’s college football landscape thought the UK-LSU matchup would be a competitive, if not down to the wire, type battle on the gridiron and a select few even predicted a UK upset.
Not me, but I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t vision the train wreck that happened.
All of those astute individuals evidently were not aware of the difference in speed and athleticism across the roster between the two teams because it was glaringly obvious to this trained eye that LSU had a level of foot speed at all positions that UK hasn’t went up against yet this season and it was apparent on the kickoff and throughout the game in all other special teams' matchups. At halftime LSU lead 27-3 but if you took away the kickoff, punt return, and punt coverage situations LSU would have only lead by a score of 10-3. There were many possessions by LSU that UK more than held its own on 1st and 2nd downs that put LSU in 3rd and long situations only to be burnt countless times and let LSU sustain drives and at least put UK backed up in their own territory when they did get possession.
Add to the fact that UK dug itself an early 17-0 hole the first 10 minutes of the game and you’ve got the beginning of a nightmare “Bayou Bengal” style. Thankfully, UK only plays LSU twice every 10 years with the new SEC rotational schedule. Nothing more really needs to be said but keep in mind, BBN, this is really only the second beat down of the first 1½ years of the Mark Stoops era and only the truly first one on the road.
Put it behind you and move on. I’m sure Stoops and the players have. Brighter days are ahead and I mean this year.
No. 1 Mississippi State Coming To CWS
There have been a few select occasions over the past 40 plus years that the No. 1-ranked college football team in America has visited CWS and they have always brought a very festive atmosphere to Lexington and I don’t see this Saturday’s (3:30 p.m. kickoff on CBS) against Mississippi State any different. In recent years, UK has even pulled of a gigantic upset, think LSU in 2007 with the help of BBN and all the other intangibles that go with playing at home.
With that being brought to the forefront and even though UK is coming off an ugly loss, I can see a truly competitive game between the Cats and Dogs this Saturday afternoon. Call me crazy if you want to but here is some of my reasoning for the optimism. Mississippi State is obviously a talented, and for the most part, well seasoned football team but their expertise lies in size and experience for the most part. UK has shown an ability to play with this type team twice already this year versus Florida and South Carolina. The Bulldogs do possess a very talented QB in Dak Prescott but they don’t have the fleet footed speed at WR that LSU possessed.
Also, don’t ever lose sight of the fact that the comfort of playing at CWS with BBN at its back has a point value credit to the home team. Add to the fact that UK has a history of playing Mississippi State very competitively for most of the last 25 years and the win-loss record against the Bulldogs is virtually 50-50 and you don’t have the negative mind set of the past for the UK players to dwell on all week leading up to the game.
Finally, this is only State’s second road SEC game, with the other being LSU. This could be the ultimate trap game with State coming off a bye week to celebrate their first half success yet still have Arkansas, Alabama and Ole Miss laying behind UK on the schedule.
I know this sounds crazy on my part with UK coming off a beatdown to LSU, which was beaten at home just a month ago by none other than Mississippi State, but remember comparing scores has a history of sending the wrong message to both teams. That’s why they clear the scoreboard after each game. Saturdays come and go in college football and rarely do the gurus of the sport find common rationalization at the end of each weekend. There is always a head scratcher somewhere across college football. This Saturday that head scratcher may just reside in Lexington but don’t bet the farm on it.
UK Basketball Just On The Horizon
The 2014 version of Big Blue Madness is now behind us and thanks to the folks at ESPN and the SEC Network about 1/3 as many of BBN had the opportunity to witness just a sampling of it and no one saw it in its true entirety as in past years other than those at Rupp Arena.
But it’s time to move on to the annual Blue-White game coming up next Monday night Oct. 27 (7:00 p.m.) at Rupp Arena and the two exhibition games on the first two Sundays in November. U-Pike University will serve as the first warmup game on Nov. 2 at 7:00 p.m. with Georgetown College serving as the second and final exhibition opponent on Nov. 9 at 7:00 p.m. with both games being shown live on the SEC Network.
Both the Kentucky men’s and women’s teams are highly ranked in the preseason polls and magazines again this year with Cal’s boys being ranked No. 1 just last week by the USA Today’s coaches poll and Matthew Mitchell’s gals earning a No. 1 ranking by the popular Athlon’s Hoops magazine.
You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage on UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball . You can also follow me on Twitter by going to @combsbrothers5.