On Hilltoppers, losers, and the joyous first weekend of the college football season


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I was ecstatic to find the Kentucky-Western Kentucky football game on TV when I got home last night.

I would say I didn’t really care about either one of them, but that’s not quite true—I revile Kentucky’s basketball program enough that I’d just as soon see the football team lose as many games as possible too, simply for playing for the same school that pays a salary to John Calipari, as well as many of his players.

Whats not to like about hating Kentucky?
  • "Tennessee Journalist" / FLICKR
  • What's not to like about hating Kentucky?

More importantly, though, it was the first night of the college football season, which is a thing to celebrate in my world.

And the earlier games were over—Wisconsin had already demolished UNLV, and even my cats were tiring of my rants about the lame-ass schedule the Badgers have before they enter Big Ten play. At least I think that's why they were yawning.

Just so you know: I am officially sick of the Wisconsin Badgers.

So I watched UK take on WKU—and it was a good one. The underdog Hilltoppers were smaller and generally less talented, but they showed enough speed to mess with Kentucky’s offense, causing quarterback Morgan Newton to make poor decisions by ground and by air.

By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Hilltoppers were still only trailing 7-3 and appeared to have the momentum. The Kentucky players, coaches, and fans had taken on panicked looks, which only the most insensitive observers would fail to appreciate.

This was the point at which I moved from mildly rooting against Kentucky to openly cheering on Western Kentucky.

So naturally, it was only a few minutes before the Hilltoppers blew it. They had Kentucky’s offense mired deep in its own territory when Newton dropped back to pass, desperate for positive yards, shifting anxiously, looking for an open receiver that didn’t exist. So he fled—and no one appeared to be more surprised than he was when he found open field ahead.

Fifty-some yards later a defensive back finally caught up with him, but a play or two after that Newton threw a high-floating pass that was in the air about a minute before one of his receivers found it in the end zone.

I had the sinking feeling that I should have been in bed, or reading the riveting report by Rahm Emanuel’s TIF reform committee, or at least shit-talking Wisconsin with the cats, even if they were curled up asleep. So instead I spent the last four minutes of the game exhorting Western Kentucky to make a dramatic comeback.

It didn’t happen. They lost 14-3.

It turned out that was the very least of my football worries. Before calling it a night I checked the latest on my team and found this woeful bit of news: Northwestern QB Persa questionable for BC game. As in our all-Big Ten quarterback. “The Wildcats lost their last three games without Persa,” I was informed.

Yeah, thanks for the reminder. Next thing I know, President Obama’s going to roll back environmental protections or something. The upside, of course, is that it’s just the start of the season—so there's plenty of time for upsets and comebacks ... and more losses.

The Persa-less Northwestern Wildcats get creamed by Illinois at Wrigley
  • Subbu4 / Flickr
  • The Persa-less Northwestern Wildcats get creamed by Illinois at Wrigley.


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