By Joe Cox
One more shot for the football Wildcats at bowl eligibility, at a winning season, and at making a statement on Mark Stoops’s tenure.
Unfortunately, the Cats travel to Louisville on Saturday to face off with a resurgent Cardinal team that just won at Notre Dame. In late September, popular consensus was that UK might be a slim favorite over U of L. Two months later, the Cats are a 14-point underdog. Let’s check it out and do one last week of SEC predictions.
WHERE ARE WE—SEC POWER RANKINGS
1. Alabama (10-1) Hold serve and advance.
2. Mississippi State (10-1) Relatively easy matchup against floundering Ole Miss to earn a spot in the Final Four.
3. Georgia (9-2) Could go 10-2, not win the division, and drastically underachieve in final analysis. Or could upset ‘Bama in SEC title game and create chaos.
4. Auburn (8-3) Looking to play spoiler.
5. Ole Miss (8-3) Ditto.
6. Missouri (9-2) Weirdest 9-2 team ever. They just win.
7. LSU (7-4) About to play SEC 7th place game. Yawn.
8. Texas A&M (7-4) Could have some real momentum with a final win here.
9. Arkansas (6-5) Finally showing their quality. They deserve a few good breaks and might well get another on Saturday.
10. Tennessee (5-6) Surely they handle Vandy?
11. South Carolina (6-5) Yuck.
12. Florida (6-4) Dabo Swiney as new coach? Got to be kidding me.
13. Kentucky (5-6) All the marbles are on the line.
14. Vanderbilt (3-8) Could awaken and knock UT out of bowl game. Won’t.
WHERE ARE WE GOING
Forget everything you thought you knew about Bobby Petrino. This is a defense- oriented Cardinal squad. Mediocre QB Will Gardner is gone for the season due to injury, but U of L beat Notre Dame with freshman Reggie Bonnafon completing less than ten passes. The Cards average 3.8 yards per carry, which is not a brilliant total. However, they give up just 2.9 yards per carry.
U of L’s QBs have been game managers. They’re not breathtaking, but have eclipsed 2,500 yards passing with only five interceptions. Meanwhile, the Cards have picked off 23 passes. Gerald Holliman has nabbed 13 interceptions himself. U of L rushes the passer well, allowing 36 sacks on the season.
The good news is that only against Murray State has Louisville eclipsed 38 points in a game. The bad news is that other than against Florida State, they haven’t allowed 30 points in a game.
I’d love to see Neal Brown come out with a sharp offensive game plan and establish momentum for 2015, as well as shocking the Cards. But Kentucky has been so far down during its five-game losing streak that it’s hard to see that happening.
U of L 31, UK 14
MY COMPLETELY CLUELESS SEC PREDICTIONS
A 7-1 week takes the yearly total to 73-17. One more week to go.
Week 14 Predictions:
Texas A&M 31, LSU 28
Arkansas 38, Missouri 28
Clemson 31, South Carolina 30
Georgia 42, Georgia Tech 24
Louisville 31, Kentucky 14
Florida State 38, Florida 10
Mississippi State 42, Ole Miss 17
Tennessee 42, Vanderbilt 7
Alabama 45, Auburn 27
Joe Cox is contributing editor for Kysportsstyle360.com. He grew up in Letcher County and Bell County, and has written three books involving UK sports, 100 Things Wildcats Fans Should Know and Do Before They Die, Fightin’ Words: Kentucky vs. Louisville (both with Ryan Clark), and Voice of the Wildcats: Claude Sullivan and the Rise of Modern Sportscasting (with Alan Sullivan). Joe is an attorney and lives in Logan County with his wife and children. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org