Wildcat coach, Mark Stoops has quietly done one of the best coaching jobs in college football, yet, no one seems to know the work! When I started the site in 2009, there were four teams in the SEC East (Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, & Tennessee) that were national powers. Let’s see how the ‘Cats’ have done against two of these divisional rivals, Tennessee & South Carolina, in recent years! In their last four meetings with the Volunteers, the Cats have won twice, including the 2020, 34-7, pounding of the Vols. It also should be noted that one of the losses (2019) was by 4 points, 17-13! That said, Kentucky has beaten South Carolina 5 times in the their last 6 meetings, including the Cats blasting of the Gamecocks, last year (2020), 41-18! The Cats beat Penn State, 27-24 in the Citrus Bowl, Virginia Tech in the Belk Bowl, 37-30, & NC State, 23-21 in last year’s Gator Bowl. Kentucky has won their last three bowl games, all against quality programs. Yet, the national perspective remains that Kentucky is a ‘Basketball School’ and one of the weakest teams in the SEC East, instead of what the really are, the division 3rd best team behind Georgia & Florida!
The Bulldogs were in a similar situation in 2012 to Kentucky’s 2009 predicament. There were four teams (Alabama, Auburn, LSU, & Texas A&M) that were considered to be among the Nation’s top 15 programs and Ole Miss & Arkansas hovering near or in the top 25. MSU is considered, at best, an also run in the SEC West Division! While that belief continues to thrive into 2021, the facts suggest something quite different. The Bulldogs have taken down Auburn 3 times in the past 7 games; beaten LSU twice in the past four meetings, & have stopped Texas A&M 3 times in their past 5 tilts. MSU has won the Egg Bowl vs Ole Miss, in three of the last five and beaten Arkansas in three of their past four games! In Cross-Divisional Games, the Bulldogs have split their last 6 meetings with the Gators, Volunteers, & Gamecocks! Hardly the stuff of a ‘weak program!’
The Big Ten’s “Basketball School” has long been consider the game you can mark down as a win in mid-July! While the team’s in the B-10 East know better, that belief still permeates within the college football world. Yet, what is the reality? Let’s take a peek! Ohio State is one of 5 elite programs (Alabama, Clemson, Oklahoma , & Georgia) while Penn State & Michigan are considered top 15 teams. Michigan State has fallen on hard times in recent years, yet are the only other B-10 team (OSU) to make the college football play-offs. Maryland & Rutgers are often considered (still) outliers in B-10 football circles. Here are the facts! Indiana has spilt the last 2 meetings with Michigan, Penn State, & Michigan State. Have won 3 in a row vs Maryland and prevailed against Rutgers, five straight times! In the Hoosiers crossover divisional games, they have split with Northwestern, handled the Illini 3 in a row, and have taken down arch-rival Purdue in 3 of their last 5 meetings! Time to rethink Indiana football!
The Cats are often referred to as a “Developmental Program” and their accomplishments summarily dismissed as a group of players that lack talent and skill, a team that wins because they are often overlooked or not taken seriously! Let’s take a hard look @ what the Wildcats have done the past few years, both in their division & conference! NW has beaten Purdue in 6 of their last 7 meetings, the Cats have beat up rival, Illinois six straight times, & humbled Nebraska in 3 of their last 4 meetings. They have taken down Iowa in 4 of their last five games and stopped Minnesota in 2 of their last 3 cross state line battles. Only powerhouse Wisconsin, in the B-10’s West Division, has managed to play the Cats even in the past four years, splitting two games apiece! NW has prevailed against Penn State in 2 of the last 3 games and won 3 of 5 vs MSU! In last year’s bowl game, the Wildcats blasted Auburn, 35-19, from the Mighty SEC for their fourth straight postseason win! Is it not time that we recognize Northwestern as one of the B-10’s best and stop dismissing them as a ‘Development Program’?