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2023 Kentucky Football Foes: Alabama Crimson Tide

Get ready for the biggest tailgate in many a season.

Jason Marcum - Sea of Blue

Greetings, BBN! Continuing our offseason previews with the Week 11 game, we arrive at the second Saturday of November with Kentucky’s final home game, and boy is it a big one.

For the first time since 2016, the Alabama Crimson Tide are coming to Lexington. Those tickets are going to go fast. It’s also the only home game of the Cats’ final four, so they’ll get no breaks at the back end of their schedule.

Just like a game hosting Kentucky basketball is everybody else’s Super Bowl, hosting Alabama football is everybody else’s Super Bowl, too, and as we saw in Knoxville last year when it’s finally your year, and you finally knock off Nick Saban’s Tide after so many blowout losses, pandemonium ensues.

Let’s break down this matchup.

Alabama at Kentucky

  • Time/Date: TBD time on November 11th
  • Location: Kroger Field
  • TV Channel: TBD
  • Early Odds: ESPN FPI gives the Cats a 14.5% chance of winning.

Alabama is coming off of another dominant 11-2 season, though not a playoff one, that ended in a Sugar Bowl win over Big 12 champions Kansas State. They had another big season under Bryce Young, edging Texas, Ole Miss, and Arkansas on the road, but came up just short in an absolutely epic game in Knoxville against one of the best Tennessee teams in a long time, where the Hendon Hooker-led Vols kicked a walk-off field goal to win 52-49, and also were defeated on a winner-take-all two-point conversion at LSU in a 32-31 overtime showdown.

Very rare that the opposition is able to get that lucky and beat the Tide in the regular season, and even rarer that two opponents do it in the same season, and rarest of all that, neither of them was named Auburn!

Kentucky’s beaten Alabama before, but only twice—a 6-0 victory 101 years ago in 1922 and a 40-34 upset in 1997 with Tim Couch. They also tied with the Tide 7-7 in 1939. Don’t ask me about the other 38 times.

The closest they’ve won to a third victory in the recent matchups was a 17-14 loss in 2008 under Rich Brooks, where a late UK touchdown with 40 seconds left cut it to three, but it was too little too late.

Prediction: “Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth,” goes the famous Mike Tyson quote. You can head into kickoff as confident as you want, as hyped as you want, and with a crowd as loud as they can be, but within minutes that 3rd & 8’s going to be coming up, and a few minutes more Alabama will have the ball and be in the red zone, and a little bit after that it’ll be 14-7 Tide, and it’ll be 3rd & 12 this time, and unless you are ready to dig in and give it absolutely everything for the entire 60 minutes and play as disciplined, as smart, and as boldly as possible, by halftime the game will be decided.

The teams that put a plan together and never let up are ready for a full 15-round fight and ready to get back up no matter how many times they’ve been knocked down and no matter how much they are bruised. Those are the ones like Tennessee and LSU last year — they get a chance.

At some point late in the game, they get a chance. That’s all you can ask for, and when you hit that jackpot you’re on top of the football world. Will UK do it this year? Never count out Stoops. Never.

But let’s give two scenarios.

(If UK is kind of like they were last year): Alabama 38, Kentucky 17

(If UK is a top-15, tough-as-nails, unfazed lion that has already beaten some of the Tennessee-Florida-Georgia caliber teams and is playing like a combination of their 2018 and 2021 selves): Kentucky 31, Alabama 30 2OT