Saturday’s loss in Oxford was a gut-punch, a heartbreaker, however you want to describe it.
Kentucky’s self-inflicted mistakes in a big game that could have helped catapult the Wildcats to the next level left many fans with a sour taste in their mouths, and understandably so.
But the sky isn’t falling, and Kentucky still has a ton to play for the rest of the way.
The schedule certainly has some challenges, but Kentucky still has the opportunity to put together a special season if the Cats can work on correcting some of the issues that plagued them in Oxford.
Looking ahead, Kentucky has two home games coming up. This Saturday against South Carolina, Kentucky enters as a 10.5 point favorite (as of Tuesday morning) and if the Cats can avoid a hangover from Oxford, should leave Kroger Field 5-1 and 2-1 in conference.
A bigger challenge looms the next week when SEC West rival Mississippi State comes into town.
If you’re like me, you have not-so-fond memories of the Bulldogs offense and QB Will Rogers slicing up Kentucky’s defense in Starkville last year, but you can also bet the Kentucky players remember that too and will be ready to go.
That game figures to be a toss-up, but if Kentucky can get a big win at home, they enter the bye week at 6-1 headed into the bye week.
Beyond the bye, Tennessee and Georgia loom as marquee games, but neither of those teams look unbeatable. Florida gave Tennessee issues at Neyland earlier this season and the Vols narrowly won the matchup over the Cats last season. We’ll learn a lot more about Tennessee with a road trip to Baton Rouge this Saturday and Alabama coming to town the next week.
And while Georgia is #2 in the country, and understandably so, the Dawgs haven't looked quite as strong as they once did while struggling to put away Kent State a couple of weeks ago and narrowly avoiding an upset on the road at Missouri this past week.
The loss in Oxford hurt, but a lot is left on the table if the Cats can rise to the challenge. It’ll be important for Kentucky to put that game behind them and move forward, because the possibility of a great season is still on the table.