On a cloudy and dreary day in November, an entire nation (a Big Blue one), turned its eyes upon an event in which they desperately wanted to win. After 2 consecutive losses, grumblings amongst the fan base about who the starting Quarterback should be, and Eddie Gran’s offense looking absolutely inept, this game was a must-win for Kentucky. A loss to Vanderbilt and the season is absolutely derailed. Fortunately, thanks to a career day from running back Chris Rodriguez, and solid QB play from Terry Wilson, the Cats were able to pull out a 38-35 victory over the Commodores.
As I watched the game play out today, I couldn’t help but find myself seeing more and more similarities between this game and our recent Presidential Election. Maybe it’s because like many of you, I have been glued to cable news for the past 2 weeks and could probably relate any event in my life to the election (maybe that could be a segment on our next podcast: “Tyler relates changing his kid’s diaper to Trump vs. Biden”).
Here are my 5 similarities of the 2020 Kentucky-Vanderbilt game and the 2020 Election:
1. The “Blue Team” was expected to win in a landslide. Kentucky was a SEVENTEEN-point favorite in Vegas, the largest point spread in their favor for the entire season. I for one was a little shocked at this spread, as winning by 17 points would require Eddie Gran’s offense to actually score, at minimum, 17 points. Which is something they have failed to do three times this season (including the last two). As someone who followed multiple presidential election polls, it was predicted by most everyone that Joe Biden would win convincingly over Donald Trump. Many polls showed Biden with a double-digit lead in the percentage of the popular vote, which included several who predicted wins for Biden in Florida and Ohio.
2. After the first quarter, it looked like the predictions might be right. Terry Wilson came out hot and lead the Cats on a 75-yard drive on their first possession, which was capped by a 15-yard touchdown from Wilson to his tight-end Justin Rigg. After forcing a punt on Vanderbilt’s first possession, Kentucky struck again when Terry Touchdown earned his nickname by scrambling for a 32-yard score to make it a 14-0 game. Similarly, at about 9pm on Election Night, the anchors on MSNBC were all smiles as each state had gone according to plan and the Big Blue Wave appeared to be well underway.
3. By halftime, it was clear this would not be the bloodbath the pundits predicted. Just as Donald Trump responded by winning Florida and Ohio to make those same MSNBC anchors have a look of sheer panic, Vanderbilt responded in the second quarter by scoring touchdowns on two consecutive drives, and headed to the locker room only trailing by ten (24-14).
4. The “Blue Team” began to run Thank goodness for Chris Rodriguez. The sophomore running back continued to show flashes of Benny Snell, plowing over and running past defenders on his way to two second-half touchdowns. The last one being a spectacular 74-yard run with 9:14 left in the game that seemed to seal the deal for the Cats as they met that 17-point spread by taking a 38-21 lead. (Also, it is amazing how you can actually score on a breakaway run when you don’t slow down to give a peace sign. I hope you were taking notes, AJ Rose).
Just as Kentucky fans were thankful for Rodriguez, Joe Biden was just as thankful for mail-in ballots. As this portion of the vote began to be calculated on the day after election day, that is when the Democrat began to really run up a lead on President Trump.
5. The losing team refused to quit. As all of Big Blue Nation began to celebrate, someone forgot to tell Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason that the game was supposed to be over. Give Coach Mason and the Commodores credit for continuing to fight. Most 0-5 teams would have rolled over down 17 in the 4th quarter, but they didn’t. Running back Mitchell Pryor scored on 2-yard run with 3:14 left in the game to cut the lead to 10. Then after forcing the Cats to a 3-and-out, Vanderbilt struck again with a touchdown pass from Ken Seals with 30 seconds remaining. Everyone in Kroger Field held their breath as the ensuing onside kick was recovered by the Cats. You kind of had the feeling that had Vanderbilt recovered, the curse of Kentucky football was about to strike.
Donald Trump is like Derek Mason. He has refused to quit as well. Despite Joe Biden having already exceeded the 270 electoral votes necessary to become the next President of the United States, there has been no concession from the current President. Instead he has vowed to continue to fight through every means necessary. And while it is very unlikely that President Trump will get a result different than Derek Mason today, odds are that whatever he does will be enough to make the “Blue Team” nervous until the final second.
*On a serious note, we at Lex, Buds & Pick ‘n Roll were heartbroken at the passing of John Schlarman. If ever there were an example of courage, strength, and leadership, Coach Schlarman was it. He wasn’t just the Offensive Line coach, or the architect of the Big Blue Wall, he was an inspiration to everyone he came into contact with. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife and children. You will be missed, Coach, but your legacy will live on through all the invaluable lessons you have passed on to every player who has been a part of the UK football program.