Yes, that’s right. E-L-E-V-E-N.
So the Wildcats will be heading for a 11-1 campaign this fall, right?
Hey, wait a minute, don’t get too excited.
But because of its favorable schedule, UK certainly has a fighting chance in every game except for the Gator showdown at the Swamp on Sept. 25 where the Wildcats haven’t won since 1979. In addition, powerful Florida is carrying a 23-game winning streak in the series.
And it should be pointed out that UK has posted 11 wins just one time in its school history.
Legendary Bear Bryant-coached 1950 team had a 11-1 mark, including a Sugar Bowl win over defending national champion Oklahoma, breaking the mighty Sooners’ 31-game winning streak.
Many years later, the Cats were declared the national champion for the 1950 campaign, according to USA Today’s Jeff Sagarin computer rankings. (Four teams, including Tennessee and Kentucky, can lay claim to the 1950 national title, according to the official NCAA record book.)
How about a 10-win season? Kentucky did that one time when the Fran Curci-coached 1977 Wildcats, led by stars Art Still and Derrick Ramsey, defeated three ranked teams, including No. 4 Penn State, and won all six SEC matchups, finishing with a No. 5 ranking by The Sporting News. But the Cats did not participate in a bowl game because of NCAA probation.
How about nine wins? UK did that three times (1949 Orange Bowl season, 1976 Peach Bowl season and 1984 Hall of Fame Bowl campaign).
Well, what about the upcoming season? If new coach Joker Phillips can guide the Wildcats, who are coming off a school-record fourth straight bowl game, to a nine-victory season or better, he certainly would join a very elite company. The school has come up with nine victories or better only five times in history.
Here’s my annual fearless forecast on UK’s game-by-game schedule:
LOUISVILLE (Sept. 4 at Louisville) -- This ABC-TV matchup promises to be an exciting one for the state of Kentucky, featuring two rookie head coaches who are friends. U of L has lost three straight games in the series after capturing seven of the previous eight matchups. Kentucky by 3.
WESTERN KENTUCKY (Sept. 11 at Lexington) -- New WKU coach Willie Taggert and his Hilltoppers will be facing the Cats, beginning a four-game series between both clubs. Western Kentucky will kick off its campaign on the road against Nebraska on Sept. 4. Kentucky by 16.
AKRON (Sept. 18 at Lexington) -- The Zips will be featuring the new boss by the name of Rob Ianello, who comes to the Ohio school from Notre Dame where he served as interim head coach. In addition to UK, Akron faces Syracuse and Indiana this season. Kentucky by 21.
FLORIDA (Sept. 25 at Gainesville) -- What can I say? In their last visit to the Swamp, the 2008 Cats were smashed 63-5. The Gators by 24.
OLE MISS (Oct. 2 at Oxford) -- This could be a down time for coach Houston Nutt after a fine 9-4 Cotton Bowl campaign last season. The Rebels by 10, dropping UK’s record to 3-2.
AUBURN (Oct. 9 at Lexington) -- The Alabama school will be seeking a revenge after a 21-14 setback to Kentucky last fall. The Tigers by 7.
SOUTH CAROLINA (Oct. 16 at Lexington) -- Ole’ Ball Coach Steve Spurrier, who has two sons on the coaching staff, is finally outcoached. Kentucky by 7, snapping the Gamecocks’ 17-game winning streak in the series.
GEORGIA (Oct. 23 at Lexington) -- The Bulldogs had to reprint about 14,000 media guides because its athletic director was fired in an embarrassing scandal. With his old boss now gone, coach Mark Richt’s seat may get hotter. Kentucky by 10.
MISSISSIPPI STATE (Oct. 30 at Starkville) -- The Cats have done fairly well recently in this sleepy Mississippi town, winning three of the last four games there, but this matchup will take place the night before Halloween. The Bulldogs by 6.
CHARLESTON SOUTHERN (Nov. 6 at Lexington) -- The Buccaneers play in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), formerly known as Division I-AA. Kentucky by 30.
VANDERBILT (Nov. 13 at Lexington) -- With respected coach Bobby Johnson gone in an early retirement, Vandy should be easier to handle. Kentucky by 6.
TENNESSEE (Nov. 27 at Knoxville) -- The Vols, who have beaten UK in 25 straight games, are expected to struggle, playing for their third coach in three years. Kentucky by 3.
And that means UK, with its 8-4 mark, will be heading for its fifth consecutive bowl.
For the Cat fans, it sounds like a fun season, huh? We’ll see how things go.
Jamie H. Vaught, whose syndicated sports column currently appears in Kentucky newspapers, is the author of four books about UK basketball. He is currently a professor at Southeast Kentucky Community and Technical College in Middlesboro and can be reached by e-mail at CatsUpClose2008@yahoo.com.