Believe it or not ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Faithful, hope in our Kentucky Wildcats is looming once again. For the time being, weeks of wondering, mumbling, and complaining are thoughts of the past though not necessarily forever gone. After all, we haven't been awakened by an overnight miracle that catapulted UK football into a place we all dream it one day will be. What I did witness was the team having fun against Ole Miss and yes, I saw hope spreading around the guys as if I were watching falling dominoes.
Seeking high and low to find a glimpse of hope in down times is not necessarily a bad thing. Realists may choose a more wait-and-see approach and that is fine as well. Hope usually just happens anytime we see our team enjoying their games. Sometimes hope is depleted as it rides off with the winning team after a loss. Other times it has been rumored that hope was thought be be headed to the cliff just like in Thelma and Louise.
What do we see as lying ahead for the Wildcats on the next three Saturdays? A little hope now makes the remainder of the schedule something to think more about. We have three more games, all SEC opponents, the last of which calls the Vols to town. Will we be able to snap the long losing streak that is forbidden to be discussed among many circles, as if a curse will come into play if we declare we will? This will be a huge game for us, in so many ways.
Let's look at the other two, first.
This coming Saturday, we travel to Nashville to take on the Commodores. Vandy is not a predominant name one thinks of when SEC football is mentioned. Just a fact. We know what a basketball school label feels like too. Just like us, their only SEC win this season has been against Ole Miss at home. Their 23 point margin against the Rebels was in September when both were looking for early rhythm. This game represents a match-up between the SEC East's fourth ranked Wildcats and the fifth ranked 'Dores. I am confident enough for calling for a win for us. Not a given, just more presented hope, because football is a game where lots of unknowns can easily come into play. A turnover here or there can make a huge difference in scoring, either way. We just have to play with more hope than they do.
Next up is the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens. The Dawgs are currently sitting at the top spot in the SEC East. All signs point to Richard Samuel, credited with the game winning touchdown, being out for the remainder of the season after ankle surgery following their game against Florida and they were short three running backs this past Saturday against New Mexico State, reportedly for failing drug tests. A number of things can happen to change the game outcome. I am giving this one a most-likely-not. I will not give it a not-a-chance though, because of hope.
Lastly we have the Tennessee Volunteers, at home. You know as well as I, this game is very important. Like I said earlier, it is huge. With a win over the 'Dores or either the Dawgs, we will have 5 wins, just one shy of the 6 needed to be bowl eligible. This is also huge among UK fans. Then there is also that seemingly relentless, seemingly unending losing streak that must be stopped from growing even longer. That is HUMUNGOUS. I, without a doubt, believe this game is very winnable. We should all hope really hard.
While some choose to no longer dream for a win over UT, others always will. I feel deep in my soul ending this streak would be more appreciated than a low-bowl bid. There is probably not a single UK fan that wouldn't take this win in a heartbeat. If things go like I am hoping we could get both a jubilant last game at home victory with a bowl bid as the bonus.
Thinking about last Saturday's win, I find there was an actual boost in my own optimistic blue soul. I fully attribute it to seeing the guys playing more like a team, having fun celebrating together, and having full hope in themselves. Hope really is a wonderful thing, just ask the team.