Prior to the season, I was a firm believer that this UK football team would go 6-6. Every week since, I have espoused the same belief, though I might have been more receptive to a 7-5 argument after the Mizzou win (which continues to look less and less impressive as the offense fails to score and they lose to ostensibly inferior teams). So I fully expected a hard-fought 10-12 point loss in Starkville last night. Instead, the 'Cats mustered only three points in a monumental second half meltdown.
The UF and Auburn losses were painful, but at least we witnessed 60 minutes of competitive football against more talented teams. Not last night. This is the most disappointed I've been in this team this season. In fact, it's the only time that I've felt objectively (as much as possible) let down. Like I was justified in my mopey dismay.
Having only watched the game once and glancing at the (always inadequate) box score, Towles had a fairly Towles-y game (astute analysis, I know, but if you're a UK football fan, you know what I mean). Which is fine. It's not like it was a surprise.
However, an ineffective defense was worse than usual in surrendering nearly 600 yards. I'm generally not a knee-jerk reactor and I've never really hopped on any "fire X" bandwagons, but if this continues, Stoops may need to evaluate the defensive coordinator position after the season. Jesse Palmer's dressing down of the unit last night (at one point calling it "air") was not entirely unmerited. This is not a revelation, either. I'll leave the advanced stats to Will, but even with improved talent and athleticism on the defensive side of the ball, Eliot's defenses still look generally confused as units, as they have since the Stoops Era began in Lexington.
Also, I hope the "put Barker in" advocates got their fill of him last night. Unsurprisingly (to me, at least) Barker looked average, at best, and confused against mostly MSU backups, throwing an interception in his second pass attempt. However you want to appraise Barker's performance, and though it was a small sample size, I do not think we're going to have a quarterback controversy any time soon. Don't get me wrong, I think Barker will be an accomplished multi-year starter at UK. But right now, he's a redshirt freshman with seasoned and more effective SEC upperclassman in front of him. It's just not Barker's time yet.
I'm just going to move on. I won't even bother watching this one a second time.
*Takes on Last Night's Game and Other NCAAF Stories
John Clay: UK Football Has a Long Way to Go. Hot take city!
Arkansas bested Auburn yesterday afternoon, but it took 4 overtimes to do it. Is Auburn back from its tomb? Honestly, I don't care. So why did I include it here? Unabashed nostalgia. It reminded somewhat me of UK's 7 overtime loss to Arkansas in 2003, which I attended with my family during my freshman year at UK. It was a long night. My brother and I still laugh when one of us imitates Carl Nathe saying, "Alexis Bwenge on the carry," because it felt like we heard Bwenge's name accounced hundreds of times that night.
Miami falls to Clemson 58-0 for its worst loss ever. This has to be it for Al Golden, right? In his fifth year at the once-dominant university in Coral Gables, Golden is 32-25 overall and sub-.500 in conference. I'm an ardent advocate for giving a NCAAF coach five full years to demonstrate what he can do. Once that half-decade is up, though? It's decision time and wins rule. Unless Golden turns it around this year (which seems very unlikely), he's likely unemployed come Christmas. Either way, for today, famous 'Cane alum Warren Sapp is not happy.
Deadspin's ESPN College GameDay Sign Roundup. The signs for the yearly FCS visit are always unique. There are several hilarious Lee Corso-related signs, and you have to love the timeless "X Eats Unfrosted Pop Tarts" burn.
*UK Basketball + Recruiting
Jon Rothstein opines that Jamal Murray will be UK's best offensive player. Rothstein projects Murray to score between 15-18 points per game. Believe it or not, UK has had only five 15 PPG scorers since Cal's arrival -- Wall (16.6) and Cousins (15.1) in '09-'10, Knight (17.3) and Jones (15.7) in '10-'11, and Randle (15) in '13-'14.
A positive note on Charles Matthews' shining exhibition at the '15 Kentucky Combine. I'm very optimistic about Matthews, both as a multi-year contributor in Lexington and as a future NBAer. Check out my Wildcat Player Preview of Matthews if you haven't already.
How badly do we want Kobi Simmons? Mike Young at Eleven Warriors (a solid OSU blog) speculates that a scheduled visit to Columbus by another PG prospect for last weekend that was canceled may indicate that OSU feels especially optimistic about landing Simmons.
If Calipari secures commitments from De'Aaron Fox and Malik Monk, which I think we are all expecting, Simmons would be part of a very crowded backcourt in 2016. We may see a squad with Tyler Ulis, Isaiah Briscoe, Mychal Mulder, and Charles Matthews, in addition to Fox and Simmons, next season. That's the epitome of a logjam. However, if the guard-heavy lineup that we should see this year proves effective, there could be room for another blue chipper in there. We'll see.
The countdown for a Harry Giles announcement may have commenced...or not, and there is a potential location for the announcement. Giles, one of the top two or three high school seniors in the nation, has a UK scholarship offer. Though things don't look great for Kentucky (UK is not even allotted a percentage in Giles' current 247 Crystal Ball), Giles attended and enjoyed Big Blue Madness (of course he did), so I am not yet willing to concede defeat.
Zach Lowe's 35 Crazy Predictions for the upcoming NBA season. Unsurprisingly, a lot of former 'Cats figure into his forecast. As a teaser, Anthony Davis and his New Orleans Pelicans will take a huge step forward and James Young will say "farewell" to Beantown. Even without the UK connection, this is an enjoyable read. It's a nonessential preseason list, to be sure, but Lowe is the best NBA writer out there.
More fun fluff from Grantland -- Jason Concepcion refreshes you on the feuds to watch this year. Amazingly, the list is Sacramento Kings-less.
The data guys at FiveThirtyEight explain why this season has been SUPER WEIRD.
Former 'Cat and current Detroit Lions RG has dealt with injuries all season. Before he can return to being one of the better offensive lineman of the game, he has to focus on staying healthy. He was able to do that last Sunday against the Chicago Bears, playing 74 out of 81 snaps and reclaiming his starting job.
Here's a painfully short but wistful interview with Nils Lofgren (E Street Band member, former Crazy Horse member) about his relationship with Neil Young and Young's upcoming Bridge School Benefit concert. If I were anywhere on the west coast, I'd make it to this concert. Young and Ryan (NOT BRYAN!) Adams are my two personal favorite musicians and there's a significant chance that they'll perform together at the Benefit.
Using the raging (yes, raging) almond versus cow milk debate, Dana Goodyear decries how difficult it is to make good food choices at the grocery store and blames the wishy-washy nature of both consumers and the information that industrial food system feeds them (pun intended).