When the air goes out of the balloon there’s no getting it back in there.
Kentucky’s fans – aka Big Blue Nation – know the feeling all too well. That loud bang? It was the balloon bursting in the face of BBN.
A basketball loss to Duke and then a football loss to Tennessee? It's a nightmare come true for Big Blue Nation. This is the week that wasn't for Kentucky's fans that have to be in one Big Blue Funk.
In a span of eight days the football Wildcats have lost two big stage, time-to-step-up games to Southeastern Conference foes and the basketball team, heralded in the preseason as one of coach John Calipari’s best yet, hasn’t looked the part … not yet anyway.
Everything looked so much better two weeks ago when the football team came back from the dead to stun Missouri on the last play, starting in motion one of the most exciting weeks ever in Big Blue Nation.
The football team was among the most talked about in the country after earning a chance to play Georgia for the SEC East Division crown. They were even talking playoff possibilities if the Wildcats could pull off the upset. The anticipation was delicious.
SEC Nation came to town and all was right in Big Blue Nation. There was dancing in the streets.
Then Georgia knocked the life out of them with a convincing 34-17 victory that wasn’t that close. The message was clear: the Cats weren’t elite in the SEC.
But that’s OK, we have a diversion. Basketball was opening with hated rival Duke and boy are we good. One of the most anticipated season openers in UK history was at hand. This was going to be good even if it did tip off at 10 o’clock.
And then it wasn’t. A 34-point loss, the worst in the Calipari era. It was never close, embarrassingly bad to the point some of the UK fans who made the trip to Indianapolis were leaving the arena with eight minutes to play. Did you make it until past midnight watching on television?
That’s OK, it’s early. Basketball will be fine. Football has a great opportunity for 10 wins. Look, we’re even favored against archrival Tennessee. It’s time to beat them on Rocky Top for the first time in 34 years.
Here we go Wildcats, here we go!
Tennessee dominated Kentucky 24-7 and we had to hear that obnoxious song over and over again. The Vols beat Kentucky for the 17th straight time at home. For the second conseutive game, the Wildcats weren't the most physical team on the field.
Just like that, all those good vibes from moments after that win over Missouri were gone. A distant memory.
Two hard-to-swallow losses against two of the biggest rivals has Big Blue Nation wondering what’s ahead instead of looking forward to what’s ahead.
The good news? Next week’s got to be better.
MARK MAYNARD is managing editor of Kentucky Today. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org