TV Time Out

UT represents important game for Cats

By: Steve Moss
By: Steve Moss

How many times have we heard the cliche, “it’s a big game?” I wish I had a dollar for every time. For the football Wildcats, Saturday’s season finale in Knoxville represents one of the most important games in recent memory. It IS, as they say, a big game.

How many times have we heard the cliche, “it’s a big game?”

I wish I had a dollar for every time.

For the football Wildcats, Saturday’s season finale in Knoxville represents one of the most important games in recent memory. It IS, as they say, a big game.

First, Joker Phillips has a chance to do what Bill Curry, Hal Mumme, Guy Morriss and Rich Brooks before him couldn’t: beat Tennessee. The Cats have gone 25 years without a win over the Vols, the longest active streak in college football.

This week, UK players and coaches are wearing t-shirts emblazoned with “517,” a number associated with the margin of victory in 25 years worth of losses.

A win also give Phillips his own identity.

Phillips still is coaching in the shadow cast by one of his mentors, Brooks, who coached the Cats to heights not known since Bear Bryant.

Sure, Phillips has led his team to bowl eligibility, but there is a small faction of fans that is still skeptical of the former wide receiver. Phillips played on the last Kentucky team to win against Tennessee. If he could coach his alma mater to a victory, suddenly Phillips creates his own legacy.

The Cats have reached the magic 6-win plateau for the fifth straight season, but because the SEC may have more teams eligible for bowls than actual bowl slots, a team may get left out of the bowl picture.

Should the Cats pull out a win on Saturday, they would finish the season 7-5, insuring another bowl trip and likely a trip outside the state of Tennessee.

A loss to Kentucky means Tennessee stays home for the holidays.

The UK players weren’t alive the last time the Wildcats beat Tennessee. Saturday’s matchup represents the final regular season game for 16 seniors. Juniors Randall Cobb (a Tennessee native), Danny Travathan and Winston Guy have said they’ll ask the NFL for an evaluation and will consider a jump to pro football.

A win on Saturday means those guys go out winners and ensures UK fans of seeing Cobb and Co. at least one more time.

Phillips, and Brooks before him, has said Kentucky needs to climb the ladder in the SEC East. Already this season, the Cats have beaten South Carolina, ending coach Steve Spurrier’s personal reign over UK. A win against the Vols could give the Cats a boost in reaching the next rung on that ladder.

Then, of course, there are the residual affects a win would bring, like bragging rights for recruiting purposes, exposure and so forth.

Commonwealth Stadium, home of the Wildcats, has long been rumored to need a facelift. Could a win over the hated Vols help kickstart a financial movement to get it done?

There’s a lot riding on Kentucky’s game with Tennessee. As they say, it’s a big game.

Those are the highlights... Stay tuned.

 

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