Welcome to the Virtual Tailgate for the Kentucky Wildcats vs. the Alabama Crimson Tide. Today's game features the #1 team in the SEC against a rebuilding Kentucky team that has shown signs of fight every single game they have played after the first one against Western Kentucky.
But we'll have time to talk about the game later. For now, let's consider the food.
First up, our cocktail. It's a warm day out, so we need something cool and refreshing.
Bourbon Mint Tea (via thebittenword.com)
I'd make this drink with a nice 100+ proof whiskey like Bookers or Wild Turkey 101, just to get a nice kick to it.
Now, we move on to apps. The south has some classics, but for my money, this is one of the true classics of southern cuisine:
Deviled eggs (via dennis)
Deviled eggs were one of my dear mother's favorite dishes, and we could look forward to them almost every Sunday back in the day.
Since we're in the classic southern tradition, let's serve a classic southern dish for our main course:
Fried chicken (via Kent Wang)
In today's worry-about-cholesterol culture, I guess some of us might feel our arteries harden just at the sight of that beautiful fried fowl, but honestly, is there anything better? I don't think so.
What to have for sides? Well, one of my favorite things to have with fried chicken is:
Collard Greens (via Bordecia34)
Yep, good ole collards, my fave. I love them with almost anything, but especially with fried food. We'll also have a nice bit of apple cider vinegar to drizzle on them.
Our second side is another Southern classic:
Pan Cornbread (via davidpbaxter)
Oh, man, there is nothing better than cornbread with a good southern meal.
We need beer, and for this autumn spectacle, let's have an autumn beer:
Narragansett Octoberfest Beer 3 (via charliekwalker)
If you've never had a Naragansett, you've missed out. Now, you can have a virtual one.
Finally, desert. We'll keep it classic:
Apple pie (via goodiesfirst)
Apple pie. Ice cream. Some things cannot be improved upon.
Now that our faces are fed, let's talk a little football. Kentucky is in a tough spot today against #1 Alabama, but the Wildcats have been mighty feisty lately, holding Louisville to a low offensive output, giving Florida a tough game, and giving the South Carolina Gamecocks a genuine scare.
What I'm looking for today is more or less a moral victory. I don't think Kentucky has enough horses to beat Alabama. In fact, I'm not sure Kentucky could beat Alabama's second team — that's just how deep and talented the Tide are.
With that said, Alabama has been pretty bulletproof on defense. They are at or near the top of the league in most defensive categories. They simply don't surrender many points, particularly on the ground, and thus they lead the SEC in scoring defense, which is pretty much the defensive statistic that matters the most. They are second in the SEC in getting off the field on third down, and generally resemble Florida a whole lot more than South Carolina when it comes to defense.
Offensively, the Tide have been just okay. A.J. McCarron has been solid, if unspectacular throwing the football, and T.J. Yeldon has a gaudy 6+ yards per carry average, and yet somehow the Tide are only 12th in the SEC in rushing offense. The Tide are a good, but not great offensive team. What makes them a great team overall is the combination of a competent offense and a very strong defense.
For Kentucky, I suspect we'll give the Tide some trouble with our defense. Kentucky has gotten better defensively virtually every game, and I expect that to continue today. With that said, we are not going to be stopping Alabama from scoring all the time — they are going to score plenty. Kentucky has been pretty woeful against the run, 13th in the SEC, and I expect a steady diet of Yeldon, Kenyan Drake, and Derrick Henry. Having to stack the box to stop the run will put a premium on pass defense, and a lot of that depends upon Kentucky's ability to get pressure on McCarron.
Can Kentucky score on the Tide? This is the big question. The offense looked horrible against Louisville and barely competent against Florida before breaking out in the USC game when Jalen Whitlow was given the starting job. He looks confident out there now, and if he can bring that kind of confidence and efficiency today, the schemes of Neal Brown can likely produce some scoring drives. Scoring 14 points on Alabama would be a major accomplishment in my book.
Well, that's what I have. What do you think?