BOZICH | Tuesday Muse: Kentucky remains America's Underdog; Rondale Moore No. 1 freshman
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Louisville has yet to win a conference football game. Ditto for Western Kentucky. Indiana has delivered in one of six Big Ten games, but the fine print shows a victory by a touchdown against Rutgers.
The combined numbers for the Cardinals, Hilltoppers and Hoosiers in league play is 1-14 while being outscored by 223 points.
Any questions about why the Tuesday Muse must focus on Kentucky and the fun encounter the Wildcats have booked with Georgia at Kroger Field in Lexington Saturday at 3:30 p.m.?
1. America’s Underdog
It’s a game Kentucky is not supposed to win in a season where Kentucky was not supposed to be 7-1.
I’m not supposed to be dwelling on what Las Vegas thinks of Mark Stoops’ surprising team, but it’s impossible to resist. So I won’t.
You’ll get 9 1/2 points if you take Kentucky against a 7-1 Georgia team that played for the national title in 2018 and expects to do it again.
That’s a ton of points for a home underdog. But understand that the Wildcats have won twice this season as a bigger underdog — beating Florida by 11 when the Gators were favored by 13 1/2 and toppling Mississippi State by 21 when they were supposed to lose by 10.
The record shows Kentucky is 3-1 while getting points but the unofficial number should be 4-1. In addition to the Florida and Mississippi State scores, Kentucky delivered as a 7 1/2-point underdog at Missouri last Saturday.
The Wildcats were also an underdog for most of the week leading into their 24-10 win over South Carolina, although the game officially kicked off as pick ‘em.
Here’s a safer bet: The over/under for combined points in the Georgia game is 44. Bettors have won with under six times with UK this season, including the Wildcats’ last five games.
That’s Las Vegas confirmation that Kentucky’s defense will hit you.
2. About Those Preseason Polls
The Associated Press college football Top 25 was shaken, stirred and shredded Monday. Seven teams moved from the Also Receiving Votes shelf into the Top 25, the biggest one-week turnover since 1989.
It’s been a wonderful year for upsets and a less than wonderful year for voters. My tally shows nearly half (12) of the teams ranked in the preseason poll were unranked in Week 10.
That includes four Top 10 teams — Wisconsin (4), Washington (6), Miami (8) and Auburn (9).
The biggest climbers?
Start with Mike Leach and Washington State, which is No. 10 after not receiving a preseason vote. Then comes Kentucky, which has soared from No. 42 to No. 11.
The Wildcats received one vote in August.
3. The One Guy Who Believed in UK
Who was the solitary genius who knew Kentucky was a Top 25 team?
Pat Dooley, the long-time sports editor of the Gainesville (Fla.) Sun. What did Dooley see that 59 voters missed?
“I saw a team that continued to get better every year and thought they were ready for the next step,” Dooley said. “I certainly didn’t see this big of a jump.”
Dooley watched Kentucky beat Florida in Gainesville and Georgia beat the Gators by 19 in Jacksonville, Fla., last Saturday.
Can Kentucky deliver the upset and win the SEC East?
“Georgia is really good but Kentucky can win if they avoid turnovers,” Dooley said. “The Dogs thrive on them.”
4. Rondale Moore No. 1
Looking for more proof that New Albany native and Trinity High School graduate Rondale Moore is the best freshman receiver in America?
This works: Moore leads all freshmen in receiving yards (802) and receptions (68).
Toss in 163 yards rushing, 58 returning punts and 426 with kickoffs, and his combined yardage of 1,449 ranks second nationally among all players. Only Memphis halfback Darrell Henderson, a junior, has Moore with 1,470.
Give Jeff Brohm a weapon like Mr. Moore and get out of their way.
5. Alabama is Forever
Confirmation will not be available until Tuesday night but if the college football season ended today, Louisiana State would make the national playoff. The Tigers would be the four-seed matched against top seed Alabama.
No need to wait until January. That game will be played Saturday in Baton Rouge. Coach Nick Saban’s team opened as a 14-point favorite. The number has moved up to 14 1/2 and dropped to 13 1/2 but parked at 14 Tuesday morning;.
I’m not the only one doing research this week. Consider this nugget that Chris Fallica of ESPN’s College GameDay dug up:
6. Tom Brady is NOT The Goat?
If you’re making your list of the three greatest pro football players of all time, who makes the cut?
Toss me out of bounds for being helplessly old school, but Browns halfback Jim Brown starts my list.
I’d also feature Giants linebacker Lawrence Taylor. Then there is the New England quarterback who should be celebrated for his longevity as well as his Super Bowl rings.
Somebody put the question to former Steelers’ quarterback Terry Bradshaw. He is not a member of the Tom Brady Fan Club, but at least Bradshaw got one name correct.
7. Hat Tip to Kyle Guy and Tony Bennett
Sorry, it’s taken me nearly a week to get to this item, but it was too good to waste. No player did a better job of handling himself at ACC Media Day than Virginia guard Kyle Guy.
Guy, teammate Jack Salt and UVa coach Tony Bennett were in Charlotte. They stayed in the same hotel that housed UVa last March when the Cavaliers became the first No. 1 seed to lose to a 16-seed (UMBC) in the NCAA Tournament. They sat in the same arena where the 74-54 upset was played.
Guy will be one of the best players in the Atlantic Coast Conference this season — and he knows opposing fans will be ready with reminders of the UMBC game. He’s ready.
“I wanted to play college basketball, I wanted to be part of March Madness and I wanted to be part of history,” Guy said, with a laugh.
“And I am part of history. I’m just on the wrong side of it.”
Bennett also delivered a solid take.
“If you learn to use it the right way, it will earn you a ticket to a place you wouldn’t have gotten to any other way,” Bennett said. “It’s OK. People are still laughing and smiling.”
8. Slow the SEC Basketball Hype
Ken Pomeroy’s preseason numbers project a solid season for the Southeastern Conference. Five SEC teams, lead by Kentucky at No. 7, are ranked in his Top 25 and five more make his Top 51.
South Carolina, ranked 42nd by Pomeroy, lost its first exhibition game to Division II Augusta, 77-72, in Columbia, while Alabama, No. 51, was routed by former Western Kentucky coach Ray Harper and Jacksonville State, 92-66, in a closed scrimmage.
Toss in an 18-point loss by Ole Miss to Carleton College during its August tour in Canada as well as Georgia’s sloppy 56-54 win in an exhibition against UAB, and there are gaps in the SEC lineup.
9. Alex Ovechkin For the Win
Even if you aren’t a hockey fan, I’m guessing you were a fan of the unbridled joy Washington Capitals’ star Alex Ovechkin showed day after day after day when his teammates finally broke through and won the Stanley Cup last spring.
Ovechkin had a bigger win last weekend. I predict you’ll agree after you watch this video.
10. Rick Pitino Tweet of the Week
Consider it another hint that he would love to coach in The Association again.
Copyright 2018 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.