College basketball season is over. For some fans in Lexington, that means it’s on to basketball recruiting season. For others, it’s time to move towards football season and what can only mean another roller coaster for fans of Big Blue Nation.
In the last 12 years, fans have seen Rich Brooks win seven regular season games three times and the longest consecutive bowl streak in program history. They’ve also seen back-to-back two-win seasons during the Joker Phillips/Mark Stoops transition.
While Kentucky has struggled to finish out seasons under Stoops, one thing that is clear: the trajectory of the Kentucky Football program is heading in the right direction – up.
In three of Stoops first five seasons, the WIldcats finished with losing streaks of three games or more. In 2013, most fans were willing to give Stoops a pass. He inherited a mess of a football team and the culture surrounding the program needed to be changed.
After winning five of the first six games in 2014 (the lone loss a triple-overtime thriller versus Florida), the Wildcats collapsed and lost their last six regular season games. 2015 was much of the same: a top 25 win, 2-1 start in conference play, and momentum heading into the second half of the season. Unfortunately, the Wildcats lost five straight and six of the last seven games to miss a bowl game for the fifth straight season.
A similar story appeared to be playing out in 2016.
After starting 0-2 and suffering an embarrassing loss to Southern Miss, things finally started to click. The second half of the 2016 season ended with Kentucky losing three of its last five games, but the Wildcats won four conference games for the first time since 2006 and it felt like the program had turned the corner.
The 2017 team won its sixth game on October 28th, only the third time in program history a Wildcat team had won six or more games before the start of November; the season ended with consecutive regular season losses and its second bowl loss in as many years.
For the 2018 Wildcats to improve upon their seven regular season for a year ago, they’re going to have to win as underdogs.
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