Kentucky Football Mid-Season Review
For the second time in five years under Mark Stoops the Kentucky Wildcats sit at 5-1 at the halfway point of the season. In 2014 the Cats began 5-1 only to drop their last six finishing 5-7 and missing a bowl game. With the team on its bye week it is time to look back at the first half of the season with the Kentucky Football Mid-Season Review. In addition we will look ahead with some predictions for the second half of the season.
The Awards Go To
Offensive MVP- Stephen Johnson– He doesn’t wow you with his stats but all Johnson does is win games. Since he became Kentucky’s starting quarterback last season he has compiled a 12-5 record. That mark is the Wildcats’ best over a 17 game stretch in 40 years. One thing Johnson has improved on is his turnovers. Through six games he has only two interceptions and one fumble a drastic improvement from 2016. For the season Johnson has completed 64 percent of his passes for 1,238 yards and nine touchdowns.
Defensive MVP- Josh Allen– When All-SEC linebacker Jordan Jones went down in the season’s second game with a shoulder injury Cats fans worried who could replace him. Enter Allen who is having a All-SEC caliber season. He currently ranks third in the nation with six and a half sacks. In addition he has three quarterback hurries and two forced fumbles. He has even been mentioned as a possible first round pick in the 2018 NFL Draft.
Best Win- At South Carolina- After giving up a 68 yard touchdown pass from Jake Bentley to Deebo Samuel on the game’s first play, the Cats dominated the Gamecocks the rest of the way. The 23-13 win over the Gamecocks was Kentucky’s fourth straight over Carolina. The win marked the first time since the 1950’s the Cats have beaten an SEC team other than Vanderbilt four consecutive years.
Worst Loss- Florida- Everything seemed to be in alignment for Kentucky to finally break a 30 year losing streak to the Gators. However it was not to be as the Cats blew a 13 point fourth quarter lead losing 28-27. Conservative play calling and two huge defensive breakdowns helped Jim McElwain’s club pull out the win. The squad said the hangover from that loss affected their play in a sloppy 24-20 win over Eastern Michigan.
Looking At the Crystal Ball
For the second half of the Kentucky Football Mid-Season Review we are going to look at the remaining games on the schedule. 2017 is only the seventh time since 1973 Kentucky has started a season 5-1. Despite the great start True Blue Fans don’t seem to be as excited as they should be. There could be a couple of reasons for this. One the memories of three years ago are still fresh on their minds and Cat fans always expect the worst.
Second the back half of the schedule is considered much tougher than the first. However reviewing the schedule is it really that difficult? At best Kentucky will only have to face two teams ranked in the Top 25 Georgia and Louisville.
Mississippi State has looked awful the last two weeks getting blown out by Georgia and Auburn. However the Cats have to travel to Starkville for this one and winning down there is always difficult.
Tennessee comes to Lexington the next week and it is safe to say Butch Jones’ job is hanging by a thread. The Volunteers will come into this game after playing Alabama. The Wildcats have only defeated UT once since 1984 but should get the job done in 2017. A loss to Kentucky might be the final nail for Jones.
The Wildcats play host to Shea Patterson and Ole Miss on November 4th. The Rebels will put up a lot of points but can’t stop anyone. More than likely the first one to 40 points wins this one and it will be the Cats.
Two Tough Games To Finish The Season
After the Ole Miss game Kentucky hits the road for the next two. A trip to Vanderbilt doesn’t look near as daunting as it did two months ago. After starting 3-0 Derek Mason’s club has lost three straight and could be losers of five out of six when they play Kentucky.
The match-up against Georgia looks to be the one game Kentucky has the least chance of winning. Kirby Smart‘s club is firing on all cylinders and has an outside shot of making the college football playoff.
Louisville comes to Lexington looking for revenge for last years 41-38 loss. Lamar Jackson and the Cardinals have struggled at times in 2017 and playing at home the Cats could very well make it two in a row.
Before the season we picked Kentucky to go 8-4 and play in the Belk Bowl. That is certainly still in play as Stoops’ Troops can win eight regular season games for the first time since 1984. With a couple of breaks a nine win season is not out of the question.
Thanks for checking out the Kentucky Football Mid-Season Review here at Last Word On College Football. As mentioned earlier next week we will be previewing the battle against Mississippi State.