Kentucky Wildcats Football: What defines success in 2014?


When you look back at the 2013 football season, it is obvious that Mark Stoops got a free pass.  Most fans decided to look away from predicting improvement in the record and instead looked for signs of life and fight in a program that had come close to being declared “dead on arrival” during Joker Phillips’ last season.  While on the field the team did seem to show more fight and a pulse, the result was the same.  Another 2-10 season.  And the stats really did not show that much overall improvement from the previous season.   Rome however was not built in a day and despite the 2-10 record, Mark Stoops went out and put together the best recruiting class in school history.  And the big question heading into season two is what will define success in 2014 for Kentucky Wildcats Football?

Over the past few days, I have seen people on Twitter and other social media predict a bowl bid for this team or at least five wins or so.  Not to curb anyones enthusiasm, I am not quick to jump on the bowl bid bandwagon.  I have said for a while that I think a four win season and a SEC win would define success for Stoops’ Troops this year and Mark Story from the Lexington Herald Leader seems to back me up on that.  Story mentioned a few things that would define success this year and the four win mark was one of them.  And to be fair, four wins should be the bare modicum of success.

"3.) Get to four wins. Let’s be clear: Going 4-8 is not “success.” However, if Kentucky does NOT get to at least four wins in 2014, it will be alarming.Three of UK’s four non-conference games are in Commonwealth Stadium against foes from the Ohio Valley Conference (Tennessee-Martin), Mid-American Conference (Ohio) and the Sun Belt (University of Louisiana at Monroe).Don’t sleep on that trio. UT-Martin won seven games last season and is quarterbacked by Dylan Favre (Brett’s nephew). Ohio has had five straight winning seasons. ULM went 6-6 last year, won at Wake Forest and has 15 starters back.Still, a football program with SEC resources should win those games. Assuming Kentucky does, then the most important game of the UK season will be Sept. 27 when Vanderbilt visits.Over the last three seasons, Vandy has drubbed Kentucky by an embarrassing 100-14. This year, James Franklin has taken his miracle-working act to Penn State. Vanderbilt has only 10 starters back. The Commodores lost difference-making wide receiver Jordan Matthews to the NFL.Simply put, if UK is improving, Vanderbilt should be a team the Cats can beat in 2014."

The thing is however, that due to how Kentucky’s schedule is laid out, four wins will not leave the BBN with a warm and fuzzy feeling.  If Kentucky wins the above games of Tennessee Martin, Ohio, Vandy, and ULM, they will have a 4-2 record and at that point, a bowl bid will be expected.  The schedule at that point is significantly tougher, but not as brutal as in years past.

Kentucky will have four road games in those final six games and would be underdogs in most of them.  Of the two home games remaining, Mississippi State would loom as a possible win, but that sixth win could be elusive.  And if UK can beat MSU for that fifth win and a 5-3 mark, something will have to break through in those last four games to avoid a month-long losing streak.  The pressure to beat UT or UL would be insane … but maybe, just maybe the bowl talk could be viable.

Due to the schedule and the possible fast start, I am revising my expectations from four to five wins this year.  I think a four win year would be solid, but you have to win at least once in those last six games to keep up momentum.

What do you think?