Just beating SEC teams with losing records could propel UK to annual success

Jordan Jones (34) and Derrick Baity celebrate the win over Vanderbilt. (Vicky Graff Photo)

Jordan Jones (34) and Derrick Baity celebrate the win over Vanderbilt. (Vicky Graff Photo)

By KEITH PEEL

During the bye week I was thinking about UK’s recent wins against South Carolina and Vanderbilt and wondering if those wins signaled hope for the future of Kentucky football.

My first inclination was to find out how unsuccessful programs became successful in the SEC. I needed look no further than Vanderbilt under James Franklin. Franklin’s teams finished 2-6, 5-3 and 4-4 in the SEC during his tenure from 2011 thru 2013. His teams went to three consecutive bowl games and finished ranked 23rd and 24th in the AP poll his last two years. His overall record the last two years was 18-8.

The amazing thing about Franklin’s accomplishments is that he only beat one SEC team (Georgia) with a winning SEC record during that three-year stretch. Based on Vanderbilt’s accomplishments during that time period it appears that for UK to be successful they only have to beat the teams on their schedule with a losing SEC record.

Past history bears that out. Had UK beaten teams with a losing record in the SEC the last two years they would have finished in 4th place in the SEC East each year and been in a bowl game with a 7-5 record.

So based on this information what about 2016? If UK can beat the teams on its schedule that will most likely have a losing SEC record (UK is 2 for 2 so far against those teams) they should end up at 4-4 in the SEC with an overall record of 6-6, good enough to go bowling.

Georgia could still potentially have a losing SEC record which would mean UK would be 7-5 and 5-3 in the SEC if Georgia has a losing record (and UK beat them as one of the losers). All of this could be accomplished by only beating the teams that have a losing record in the SEC.

Looking at Vanderbilt’s accomplishments it should give us hope that if we can continue to beat the losers in the SEC we can become  a yearly bowl team that is a ” middle of the road” competitor in the SEC. That would be a huge step up from where we sit today.

3 comments

  1. I agree with you Keith, that would be a start in the right direction for UK football, but most of us long time UK football fans want to see UK win the East, and win the SEC championship before we leave this world.That is why you compete. But your scenario is a step forward no doubt. The first thing UK has to do is build respect in this league and across the country. Not many respect UK football now, despite our 2 SEC wins in 2016. The next thing that has to happen is for UK is to attract more talent, and I’m talking more 4* and 5* football talent. I look at the number of first round draft picks UK has had since 1985. That number is around 4 I believe. Tennessee, for example, UK’s long time rival to the south, has had close to 30 in that same time period. It can be argued that Louisville is attracting more football talent now than UK. Hard to admit, but the records speak for themselves. This 2016 UK football squad has the opportunity to build on your premise going forward, starting with MSU on Sat. Can they do it? We are about to find out.

    1. I agree with both of you. And I think this team is coming around. I can see 6 wins this season. We should be able to beat MSU at hone and add either Mizzou or GA to that win column.
      I’ve compared this season to 06 but we have to remember times are different now. We play.one more SEC game than we did back then and our non-conference foes are stronger. Still I am expecting 6 and possibly 7 regular season wins and a bowl game. Been saying this for two years, but i think we are about to turn the corner. Time will tell.

      GO CATS!!!

  2. To some extent, teams that finish in the SEC at 4-4 or 3-5 will do some by beating teams with worse sec records than themselves, and if those games had gone the other way, those teams would rise to the mediocre middle and UK would again sink to the bottom. I am not sure that this article is anything but a statement of the obvious.

    The goal, as stated by Coach Stoops when he arrived, is SEC competitiveness at the championship level. That requires, not 3, or 4, or even 5 SEC wins in a season, but at least 6, and probably 7 or 8. To achieve at this level, any team must not only take care of business against the bottom dwellers, but beat the mediocre and the title contenders.

    e.g. A championship occurs simply by beating teams with more SEC losses than the eventual champion has for the season.

    The more fundamental question, one I raise prior to every football season, is what level of play is required of the Cats for them to achieve at a 3, 4, 5, and 6 SEC win level. This team may be within reach of the 4 win level right now, and if it grabs that brass ring, it will pull itself up and beat Mississippi State on Saturday, and then follow that up with a win either at Missouri or against Georgia.

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