If there is one thing that people in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky like to do, it is to hype a sporting event. The Kentucky Derby is known as the "the greatest two minutes in sports". Folks in Louisville jumped on the hype train last week for the Clemson football game as some called it "the biggest football game to be held in Kentucky". We saw how the hype train exploded for that game, but even this weekend's Kentucky vs Florida football game is worthy of a certain amount of hype.
The hype on this game is all one-sided, of course. If Florida wins or loses this game, it's just another football game in another football season. But if Kentucky wins, this is the game that changes everything.
For starters, the Wildcats go from being a media dark horse contender to a legitimate SEC East contender. You can argue that a win puts them in the driver's seat, just due to the conference schedule the Wildcats face the rest of the way. The #11 Bulldogs face Mississippi State this weekend. The Bulldogs also have #15 Auburn and #20 on the schedule, along with Tennessee. The Wildcats still have Mississippi State and Georgia on the schedule, but getting the win over the Gators will be a real confidence boost to the Wildcats and will give them a leg up.
Secondly, a win over the Gators will give the whole program an air of legitimacy and prove that the Wildcats are for real, as well as probably land the Wildcats in the Top 25. This will also open the eyes of recruits and more than likely set the table for another bowl bid in recruit-rich Florida.
Perhaps the biggest thing that a win over Florida will do is to give this fanbase a break and end the embarrassing punchline that this streak has been for the program. In doing so, will call attention to the job that Mark Stoops has been doing in Lexington. Hopefully, this will end the broadcasting talking point that Kentucky is just a basketball school. And that the football Cats have a pretty impressive coach as well.
Kyle Tucker did a good job of breaking down the football coaches in the SEC and he found that over the past 14 games, Mark Stoops has one of the best records in the SEC next to Nick Saban. Since making the change to Steven Johnson at quarterback, the Wildcats have gone 10-4. The years of strong recruiting are paying off and Kentucky brings the #3 run defense in the nation into a game where the Gators are struggling with the run and have their top back suspended.
A Kentucky win over Florida today would by far be the biggest win of the Mark Stoops' career and would fulfill some of the promises that he brought when he took over the program. I'm not going as far to say it would be the biggest win in the Kentucky football program or even the biggest game at Commonwealth/Kroger Field.
It would send a message that Kentucky football is for real and that Lexington is a place that recruits can go to compete for a SEC Title. It would end the stain on the program that is the Florida streak. It would put the Kentucky program in a position that it has not been in the past three decades.
This is the game that changes everything.