(LEXINGTON, Ky.) – Immediately after Kentucky dispatched Toledo 38-24 in the season home opener, Terry Wilson was all smiles. The second-year starter had just completed 19-of-26 passes for 246-yards and two touchdowns, with zero interceptions. By statistical standards, it was a very satiating performance.
“I’ll stay hungry out there—a hundred percent, the whole season,” emphasized Wilson, the junior college transfer from Oklahoma City. “It felt good. I was really comfortable. I knew what the game plan was. I knew what I was supposed to do. I wanted to just go out there and play football. It’s been a long time since we’ve gotten out there on the field.”
The predictable win over a supposedly quality MAC opponent provided glimmers of hope for a couple of gnawing preseason concerns. The young defensive secondary performed more than adequately, and the receiving corps made some huge catches. But it’s just one game—and it’s always prudent to remember who your competition is before you start licking your chops.
Kentucky will have a chance to feast on their second big MAC team of the year this Saturday once again at Kroger Field. Next up are the Eastern Michigan Eagles providing another serving of chicken wings from an all too familiar conference buffet. With the win over Toledo, Kentucky pads its record to 21-3 all-time against MAC opponents. They’ve won the last eleven in a row. There’s simply not much left on the Eastern Michigan menu that gives me cause for concern.
This preseason, the Eagles were picked to finish fourth in the MAC Western division, ahead of only Ball State and Central Michigan. They’re led by senior quarterback Mike Glass III, a dual threat athlete who passed for 1,024 yards and 9 touchdowns through 8 games last season. Glass also ran for 412 yards and 6 scores, including back-to-back 100 plus yard rushing games.
In their season opening 33-20 win on the road against Coastal Carolina this past Saturday, Glass was an impressive 20-22 passing for 188 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for a score. Keep him under wraps, and Kentucky cruises into the Florida game with a 2-0 record and a belly full of confidence.
The Wildcats open as a 14.5-point favorite against the Eagles this week, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy pickings. After all, these games aren’t played on paper. Just ask Tennessee after their Georgia State debacle…or how about South Carolina losing to North Carolina, or Ole Miss choking against Memphis, or Missouri blowing up versus Wyoming.
“It could happen to any of us,” Stoops said, when I asked him what he thought of Tennessee going down. “I’m not going to sit up here and throw any stones, that’s for sure. You heard me say it, ‘You get an opportunity to be humbled every seven days sitting up here.’ I’m not going to get out in front of my skis…I’ve been there before.”
Chances are, Kentucky won’t be going there this week. Against Toledo, 54,610 fans woke up early for the noon kickoff. Here’s hoping at least that many will attend this Saturday night’s big MAC attack. Remember, there’s no mustard on a Big Mac. Whether Kentucky wins by three or thirty, I’M LOVIN’ ITall the way to Kroger field.
Dr. John Huang is a columnist for Nolan Group Media. If you enjoy his writing, you can read more at www.huangswhinings.comor follow him on Twitter @KYHuangs.