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IRA COMBS: Gridiron Wildcats Searching for Win No. 6 at Missouri


By Ira D. Combs

Tri State Sports Media Service Inc.

The 2014 UK football season has obviously hit a wall having lost two consecutive games albeit to two Top 25 teams with the latest being numero uno in college football. Still you’ve got to like the fight and moxy in this team with the way they kept scratching, clawing, and battling the No. 1 team in the land coming off their first true beat down of the season at LSU.

Yes, they shot themselves in the foot all night and especially in the first half against Mississippi State by dropping a couple passes, missing a couple wide open receivers, making a couple poor decisions once again with specialty teams play and several missed tackles on defense. It put them in a hole again at halftime but not so deep they couldn’t dig out and give them a chance to tie the game on three different possessions late in the third quarter and twice in the fourth quarter. The final score of 45-31 was no indication of the sequence of play going down the stretch run to end the game.

Mississippi State’s well respected coach Dan Mullen said himself after the game. “This Kentucky team is a very dangerous team; I can see them winning a few more this year."

The usual SEC gauntlet schedule continues on for the second half of the season at Missouri this Saturday (4:00 EST on SEC Network). The Tigers are coming of a 24-14 win over Vandy with an impressive 6-2 record overall and 3-1 in the SEC East although those two Mizzou losses came to a very ordinary 3-4 Indiana team 31-27 and a 34-0 shutout to Georgia, which was playing their first game without their stud running back Todd Gurley. There are some longtime Wildcat football followers who I’ve spoken to in recent days who believe this is UK’s best chance at a road win, not me. I still think Knoxville and/or Louisville still holds the best opportunity for that coveted No. 6 bowl-eligible win.

Only time will tell how it all plays out for this 2014 UK football team but I’m getting more excited each week for the future of this starving for success football program and the Mark Stoops era.

Brief Two-Game Exhibition Season Tips Off This Coming Sunday Night, Nov. 2

John Calipari’s new “Blue Patoon” system of playing hoops begins its exhibition season this coming Sunday Nov. 2 (SEC TV Network at 7:00 p.m.) and it appears to be as exciting and successful as any season has been since Coach Cal arrived in Lexington with this one possibly bringing more anticipation to Big Blue Nation than any of the previous five. With a team finally composed of experienced juniors and seasoned sophomores as well as the usual mega-talented incoming freshman class, one has to think even at UK this could be a team (which has nine McDonald's All-Americans) and season that could be special even in the annals of this historic program.

Basically the only record that UK doesn’t hold is the one most coveted by BBN and that's the most NCAA championships which UCLA has at 11. There is no doubt in the entire Commonwealth of Kentucky that this team has its sights set on earning the Cats ninth NCAA championship next March putting them within two of tying the record.

But first things first because as Coach Cal says there is a process each team must plow through and it starts with the exhibition season the next two Sundays.

NBA Season Begins This Week With Several Former UK Players In Prominent Roles

Beginning this week Julius Randle and James Young will be the latest former UK hoop stars to begin their pay for play careers and lifestyles in the mega-talented rich and famous NBA.John Wall’s Washington Wizards team opened a few eyes late last season and is expected to make an even deeper run in the playoffs this year and Anthony Davis is definitely building an NBA resume that has him on a timeline to be in several NBA All-Star games down the road. Eric Bledsoe and DeMarcus Cousins are becoming go to players for their respective teams and both just signed new max contracts as well, pretty much setting them up for a comfortable life for the distant future.

Listed below are UK’s highest ranked players with the deepest pocket books for the 2014-15 season with the information coming from the NBA link on www.espn.com Web site (through NBA media services).

The dollar amount listed after each player is sole salary for this upcoming 2014-15 NBA season:

Rajon Rondo – Boston Celtics - $12,909,009.00

James Young – Boston Celtics - $1,674,480.00

Nerlens Noel – Philadelphia 76ers - $3,315,120.00

Demarcus Cousins - Sacramento Kings - $14,746,000.00

John Wall – Washington Wizards – $14,746,000.00

Eric Bledsoe – Phoenix Suns - $13,000,000.00

Archie Goodwin – Phoenix Suns - $1,112,280.00

Anthony Davis - New Orleans Pelicans - $5,607,240.00

Darius Miller – New Orleans Pelicans - $915,243.00

Julius Randle – Los Angeles Lakers - $2,997,360.00

Michael Kidd Gilchrist - Charlotte Hornets - $5,016,960.00

Patrick Patterson - Toronto Raptors - $5,831,326.00

Chuck Hayes – Toronto Raptors - $5,958,750.00

Jodie Meeks – Detroit Pistons - $6,000,000.00

Enes Kanter – Utah Jazz - $5,694,674.00

Marquis Teague – Brooklyn Nets - $1,120.920.00

Nazi Mohammod – Chicago Bulls - $915,243.00

Brandon Knight – Milwaukee Bucks - $3,553,017.00

Terrence Jones – Houston Rockets - $1,618,680.00

Doron Lamb – Dallas Mavericks - $915,243.00

Tayshaun Prince – Memphis Grizzlies - $7,707,865.00

You can go online to www.combsbrothersonkysports.com for more coverage of UK football and basketball as well as KHSAA football and basketball. You also can follow me on twitter at @combsbrothers5.

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