A Big Year Coming Up?
Expectations are sky-high for Mark Stoops as he starts his ninth season in Lexington. Coming off five straight bowls and three consecutive wins the Cats are considered a dark horse by many in the SEC East. As a result, Kentucky’s gone from trying to establish the program to now making it a top-tier school. As we look at five goals for Kentucky in 2021 we focus on things the team should be able to accomplish.
Make A Sixth Straight Bowl Game
In the long history of Kentucky football, the Cats have never been to six bowls in a row. Under Rich Brooks and then Joker Phillips Kentucky went bowling five straight years, winning three. Before that the best UK could muster was three straight under the legendary Paul “Bear” Bryant from 1950- 1952. With the squad, Stoops has in 2021 along with the schedule the season is a complete disaster if the Cats don’t go bowling.
Win A Fourth Consecutive Bowl
As a school, Kentucky is 11-9 in bowl games all-time. However, when the Cats win in the postseason is usually comes in bunches. In fact, they’ve won three straight on three different occasions. The Cats won back-to-back bowls in 1951 and 1952, then 24 years later in 1976. From 2006- 2008 they won three straight under Brooks and have now won three straight under Stoops. The latest of course coming in January when they beat North Carolina State in the TaxSlayer Gator Bowl 23-21. However, they’ve never won four straight postseason games. Again if Kentucky has the season most people think they’ll likely have that chance against another Power Five opponent.
Continuing on with five goals for Kentucky in 2021 we look at something that hasn’t been done in over 40 years.
Beat Tennessee In Back To Back Years
The struggles Kentucky’s had against their neighbors to the south are well documented. Losing 26 straight from 1985-2010 is almost as maddening a streak like the one to Florida. UK broke one big streak versus the Volunteers a season ago with a huge 34-7 win. The victory marked the first win in Knoxville since 1984. Now for the “Stoops’ Troops” the next step is back-to-back wins. The last time that happened was all the way back in 1976 and 1977 when Fran Curci roamed the sidelines. This year’s game is at Kroger Field when the Cats previously won in 2011 and 2017. If Kentucky wants to solidify themselves as a top-tier SEC team then they have to beat the Vols consistently.
Continue Beating Middle Of The Pack SEC Schools
In addition to beating the Vols Kentucky must keep up their recent dominance against the SEC East teams not named Florida or Georgia. Before last year’s loss in Columbia UK had won five straight against Missouri. In all honesty, you could throw out the 2020 game as the team wasn’t really all there due to missing offensive line coach John Schlarman, who passed away shortly thereafter. With Eli Drinkwitz’s Tigers, a trendy team to watch this year the match-up in week two is a big one. A win at home gives the Cats a real solid chance at a 6-0 start.
Along with Missouri another school Kentucky’s had great recent success against is South Carolina. Much like Missouri UK’s won five of six against the Gamecocks. Back in December Kentucky crushed USC 41-18 in the regular-season finale. With Carolina still in rebuilding mode under new coach Shane Beamer Kentucky is a big favorite even on the road.
One other team Kentucky simply has to beat is Vanderbilt. From 1976-1981 Kentucky beat the Commodores six straight times, a record for UK in the SEC. Currently, the win streak against them sits at five. The Cats wrap up the conference portion of the schedule on November 13th in Nashville and can’t afford a letdown. If we are being honest this streak really needs to reach double digits if you’re a Cat fan.
Finishing up five goals for Kentucky in 2021 is a look at one more streak the Cats must continue.
From 2011- 2015 the Cardinals won five straight “Battles For The Governor’s Cup.” However, since then Kentucky’s gone 3-1 against U of L, including a combined score of 101-23 in the last two meetings. The latter being a 45-13 blowout in which they ran for 517 yards, 284 of those coming from Lynn Bowden. Of course, last year’s meeting was canceled when the SEC opted for a conference-only schedule. Kentucky concludes the 2021 campaign on the road against Scott Satterfield’s squad. UK needs another win for continued state dominance.
Of course, the ultimate goal for not only Kentucky but every team in the league is the SEC Championship game. As it stands right now UK, along with Ole Miss, Texas A&M and Vanderbilt are the only teams who haven’t been to Atlanta. The 2021 schedule sets up very nicely for the Cats with home games against Florida, LSU, and Tennessee. However, two major stumbling blocks are road trips to Georgia and Mississippi State. If Kentucky handles their business in the games they should win then this might be that special season.
Thanks for checking out five goals for Kentucky Football in 2021 here at Last Word On College Football. We are rapidly approaching the September 4th opener against Louisiana-Monroe. We’ll have position previews, predictions, and more getting you ready for 2021.