When I was a child, my favorite day of the year wasn't Christmas, it was the first day of summer vacation. Don't get me wrong, Christmas was awesome. But it was also one day, the meat of which was usually over in a couple of hours. The first day of summer, on the other hand, was a chance to get in all the fun I could. Whatever worked well could be repeated for three whole months, but if I happened to choose my fun poorly, the next day was another chance to get it right. Still, I woke up that first morning every year bound and determined to get it all in (until I was about 16, at which point I slept as long as I possibly could all summer). On that first day of summer, the possibilities were endless. I might find a great pickup basketball game, discover a new place to ride my bike, meet a new girl or a friend's parents might leave town for three weeks. It was all out there. But I never really knew until I gave it all a shot.
The first game of Kentucky's season always brings this kind of wonderment. We can talk all summer about how the team is going to be and what it might (or might not) accomplish. But we never really know until right after that first coin flip. This year, Kentucky isn't supposed to be very good. I predicted a 5-7 season, but would admit that from a purely objective standpoint, even that is a little optimistic. Most everyone else is calling for a 3-9 or 4-8 year. If someone has this team finishing 6-6 or above and going to a bowl, I've not witnessed it.
But you know what. I'm still pumped up today. I'm anabolic. As I am every year at this time. Because me, you, Pat Forde, Phil Steele, Lee Corso or Mike from the car wash, we can say whatever the hell we want about how the season will play out, and yet we'll all watch the games. Because in the end, you never really know, do you? The game is the thing.
By now, the writers here at A Sea of Blue and other outlets have said plenty about the upcoming season and today's game. I'm going to leave the X and Os discussions to others today. Instead, I'll simply say this. Vegas installed Kentucky as 14 point underdogs. The line has only moved slightly, which means gamblers largely agree. The people who set these lines know more about relative team strength than any talking head on ESPN or Fox. And they know a hell of a lot more than I do. I've examined this game from every angle, though, and I just don't see it. This is going to be a game. And if it isn't? We have 11 more.
It's football time in the bluegrass.