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Keith Taylor: Kentucky football creating its own Big Blue Madness heading into second half of season

I don’t think I can remember a time when Kentucky football was such a hot topic going into the second half of the regular season.

By this time of the year, Big Blue Madness is the talk of the town and the Wildcats football team are still chasing that elusive sixth win to become bowl eligible. For the first time since, well, 1950, Kentucky opened the season with six straight victories and has already locked up a bowl bid. The question isn’t if, but when, the Wildcats will play its school-record sixth straight bowl game under coach Mark Stoops.

Keith Taylor

I remember the excitement that followed the Wildcats during the Hal Mumme era that revived statewide interest in the program, especially early in his tenure when the Wildcats stunned Alabama on Oct. 4, 1997, at Kroger Field. I also remember the Rich Brooks teams earlier in this decade and the two teams that captured back-to-back victories over Clemson and Florida State in the Music City Bowl. Kentucky’s most recent success came in 2018 when the Wildcats won 10 games for the first time in more than four decades and defeated Penn State in the Citrus Bowl.

This year and some history-making moments possibly await the Wildcats down this road they currently are traveling.

A win would place the Wildcats in the Top 10 in the rankings and on the fast track toward landing one of four spots in the College Football Playoff. It’s an unprecedented scenario, but this entire season has been less than traditional for the Wildcats on the football field.

It will be a tall order for the Wildcats at No. 1 Georgia Saturday, but they’ve already shown they can defy the odds by beating Florida (20-13) and LSU (42-21) convincingly during the past two weeks. The two victories are part of a crucial four-game stretch in five weeks that many considered would make or break the season for the Wildcats and that’s not including the border battle against Tennessee.

Of course, basketball still matters, and all eyes will be on the Wildcats when they take the court on Friday night, but it will be short-lived. In what will be Kentucky’s biggest football game in modern history, the Wildcats meet the Bulldogs in an SEC East showdown between the two division leaders on Saturday afternoon. Both teams are 6-0 and undefeated in four tries against conference foes this season.

The winner gets an early path to the SEC Championship game in December, but it’s not certain, given the schedule each team faces during the remainder of the season. Kentucky is off next week but still has a road game at Mississippi State on Oct. 30 in Starkville and then faces surprising Tennessee in the first of four games in November, including road games at Vanderbilt and instate rival Louisville.

It’s been a successful season for the Wildcats and they can only add to the list of memories in the future as this history-making season continues to unfold.

Keith Taylor is sports editor for Kentucky Today. Reach him at keith.taylor@kentuckytoday.com or via Twitter at keithtaylor21

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