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Kentucky Wildcats Football: Kentucky vs. Tennessee Martin Virtual Tailgate

Can you smell the freshly cut grass and the smoke from the grill? It's football season.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

Football is back and so is everything that goes with it. The pomp and circumstance of the game day experience isn't complete without starting things off with a little tailgating. It is as much of a tradition here at A Sea of Blue as it is in the parking lots of Commonwealth Stadium.

As the players prepare in the locker room, the fans prepare in the backs of trucks, behind corn-hole boards, in front of a grill, or, in this case, in front of a computer screen. While I cannot duplicate the aromas, the tastes, and the sounds of tailgating, I can at least recreate the experience. And that is my duty to you today, loyal A Sea of Blue readers; get us as close to the experience as I possibly can.

There is renewed hope in the Commonwealth as Mark Stoops begins his second season as head coach of the Wildcats. There are new faces as well as some old. Stoops has a better mixture of youth and experiences this season but it still isn't where it needs to be. He knows that, the players know that, and the fans should know that as well. But that's not an excuse. Improvement is expected and I think it will be attained. UT Martin is the first foe on the docket, and while they should be less superior than the ‘Cats, there are some things that we as fans need to look for out of this team.

But before we get into all of that, let's wet our whistles and fill our bellies. It's early enough for breakfast so I will make sure we have some breakfast food elements to our recipes.


Mimosas! (via slettvet)

It's the first game of the season and it's early in the day. Let's splurge a little bit and start with some delicious mimosas. Hopefully your celebratory season opening champagne has been chilling for at least a couple of days. Add that to your orange juice or grapefruit juice and you have a light, tangy alcoholic beverage to kickoff the morning.


Chips and dip (via Raphaellove)

Here is a little something to nibble on while we enjoy our mimosa. Grab a bag of your favorite tortilla chips and get ready to dip them into this tailgating appetizer classic. Sausage cheese dip is on of my all time favorite pre-game snacks and it seems that everyone has their own secret recipe. Brown your favorite sausage in a pan or on the grill, melt 1-inch Velveeta cheese chunks with salsa, add a dollop of sour cream, some pepper, the sausage, and mix vigorously. What you have left in a delectable mixture of cheesy heaven and breakfast sausage. You can't get much better than that.


Chicken Tenders! (via Derek Purdy)

Next, fire up the grill and grab some chicken tenders. Before you grill them, place the tenders in a mixing bowl with one tablespoon and a teaspoon of garlic powder. Grill them until the chicken is done all the way through. Grab your favorite dipping sauce (barbecue, ranch, honey mustard, etc...), dip, and enjoy.


Yum! Deviled eggs (via dennis)

How about a nice classic to go along with the chicken tenders? Deviled eggs will do the trick! The important part of the deviled egg is the yolk, where all the flavor is located. I like to add mayo, vinegar, mustard, salt, and pepper. Some like to add pickles or relish to the mix. That's the great thing about this recipe: you can add whatever your heart desires.


Mmm... baked beans (via jeffreyw)

Baked beans go well with just about any tailgating food out there. Again, everyone has a recipe for baked beans, but for our purposes here, let's make sure that there are a couple slices of nice and crispy bacon to our bean concoction. And don't forget the brown sugar and onions as well.


Goose Island India Pale Ale (via cogocogo)

Goose Island is based out of Illinois and they make a fine IPA. It's grapefruit aroma and fruity flavor blended with a hop aftertaste makes this the perfect beer to fit with our meal. I'm generally not a big fan of IPA's but I will make an exception for this one. Goose Island rarely misses the mark.


Oreo truffles (via baronsgirl10)

With all of this feasting and drinking, not much time is left for us to get to the game. So let's pop a few Oreo truffle balls into our mouths as we head towards the gates. These are as good as it gets for chocolate lovers such as myself and are easy to make. All you need are 36 Oreo cookies, 1 package of cream cheese, and 4 packages of semi-sweet chocolate broken into pieces and melted. All it takes is to mix these ingredients, roll them into balls, and let them refrigerate for about an hour. After that, it's heaven in your mouth.

This is a game that the Wildcats should win and they should win with ease. The Skyhawks come out of the Ohio Valley Conference and were 7-5 last season. Opponents put up more than 40 points on them last season, including a 63-14 bashing by Boise State and a 70-22 beat down by Eastern Illinois. Needless to say defense wasn't a specialty.

UT Martin will use two quarterbacks, one of them being Dylan Favre, nephew of NFL legend Brett Favre. Tony Bell is the best player on the team. He's a linebacker, and Mark Stoops had some major praise for him:

"They have a great defensive player, No. 40, the linebacker, an exceptional player. He’s a really good football player," Stoops said of Bell. "He can play anywhere in the country. Really like the way he plays [...] he’s a great pass‑rusher as well. Like Bud in that area. Bud is an outside backer, obviously much bigger. But he’s like Bud in that he’s comfortable on his feet, got great instincts, he’s an extremely good pass‑rusher. He’s a mismatch for some people on the edge."

Other than Bell, I don't think the 'Cats will have much to worry about on either side of the ball.

While this should be a certain win for the 'Cats, there are some things that we need to see in order to be optimistic heading towards Ohio and then Florida. I expect the offense to work out some kinks with Patrick Towles in his first start in over a year and young players in the skill positions. They may rely on the running game with the plethora of talented backs. I also think that the defense will be much improved and should be the most impressive unit on the field. UT Martin's head coach openly wished for Stoops to sit Bud Dupree and Za'Darius Smith for the game. Fat chance that happens.

It's a wonderful day for football and there is plenty of room for optimism. Let's start this year out with a big win and get some confidence rolling with the players. Stoops has been very pleased during the first week of game preparation and believes his team has something to prove to the college football world.

Go Big Blue!