SEC schedule maker another potential obstacle between football Cats and success

It had all the classic markings of a potential UK upset, even though Kentucky was favored. And when does THAT ever happen?

October 20, 2007, is when eighth-ranked Kentucky hosted number 14 Florida, with ESPN’s College Game Day crew on campus.

But the Cats fell short, and a big reason they couldn’t close out the Gators could be a factor this season if Kentucky can’t pull off victories in any “swing” games.

Urban Meyer, his staff and his Florida team in ’07 had an extra week of preparation for Kentucky. As the Wildcats were shocking then top-ranked LSU, the Gators were watching, and resting. Meyer and company had bonus time to prepare for Kentucky’s multiple attack, and it showed.

UK quarterback Andre’ Woodson threw for 415 yards and five touchdowns. But the Kentucky offensive front, which the week prior had allowed no sacks to LSU, gave up six against the Gators.

Meanwhile, Tim Tebow lit up the UK secondary, throwing for 256 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Ten times, the Gators had possession of the football, and seven times they scored – including six touchdowns. The Wildcats had few answers for a supremely talented, well-coached team that had made excellent use of the additional prep time.

Joker Phillips has a similar problem.

UK has four so-called “swing” games on the 2012 schedule – Mississippi State, Georgia, Missouri and Vanderbilt. Of those four opponents, three of them, before they take on Kentucky, face “Open Date.”

The only exception is Vandy, which hosts Massachusetts before coming to Lexington, and then heads for Ole Miss.

In case you’re wondering about Kentucky’s open week, it couldn’t come at a worse time – Saturday, Nov. 10. It follows seven consecutive SEC games, and falls just before UK’s get-well game with Samford, which Kentucky figured to win without the additional prep time.

Most coaches will tell you they don’t like open dates if their team is playing well; they welcome them if injuries or losses are taking their toll. Joker Phillips likely would say it doesn’t matter how the schedule shakes out, that he can’t control it, and there’s nothing they can do but go play.

But with so much on the line this season, you couldn’t blame him for thinking, A guy can’t catch a break sometimes…

(to read more, please go to

Dick Gabriel is in his 24th season with the UK TV and radio networks, and can be heard each Monday-Friday at 6 p.m. on The Big Blue Insider, on 630 WLAP-AM.