It has long been an article of football faith that chilly Kentucky — northern most outpost in a warm-weather league — is at a geographic disadvantage in the Southeastern Conference.
Yet rather than a vertical challenge, maybe UK football's greatest obstacle of geography is horizontal.
Since 2006, when the Rich Brooks era uptick in Kentucky's football fortunes commenced, UK is a most respectable 7-4 in contests against foes from the SEC West.
In the past four seasons, Kentucky has beaten every team in the West except for Alabama.
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If the Cats can defeat Mississippi State on Halloween Night in Commonwealth Stadium, they will clinch their fourth-straight season with a winning record (all 2-1 marks) against the West.
Over the same time frame, Kentucky has defeated two SEC East foes (Georgia and Vanderbilt). The Cats are a fairly dismal 3-14 overall within their home division.
The question on the floor this morning is why has Kentucky fared so much better versus the West than the East?
"I don't know," said Kentucky senior offensive guard Christian Johnson. "I couldn't really say, I just don't know."
Corey Peters, UK's senior defensive tackle, said he did not want to say the East has been better than the West.
Then he did.
"I do think the East tends to have more good teams year in, year out," Peters said.
History shows that the SEC East has been consistently top heavy.
Since the conference went to divisions starting with the 1992 football season, only three schools have represented the East in the SEC championship game.
Florida has made nine appearances, Tennessee five and Georgia three.
The West has been a comparative parity party. Every school in the division except Mississippi has played in the SEC championship game.
Alabama leads the way with six appearances, followed by LSU at four, Arkansas and Auburn three apiece, and Mississippi State one.
"There has probably been a little more up-and-down in the West as far as being consistently good or having bad years or down years on some of those teams," said Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks.
Alabama and LSU are the two schools that should be the Florida and Tennessee (or Georgia) of the West.
Yet the Crimson Tide's run-ins with the NCAA enforcement staff have kept Alabama from full-scale dominance during the SEC's division era.
LSU was one of college football's great underachievers before Nick Saban built a championship-caliber program in Baton Rouge that, so far, Les Miles has sustained.
Yet UK's relative success against the SEC West cannot be attributed just to the lack of a Florida-type titan in that division.
Against even the best from the West, Kentucky has fared fairly well over the past four seasons.
UK stunned eventual national champion LSU in 2007. It beat defending SEC West champ Arkansas in Fayetteville that same season.
This year, Kentucky's signature moment to date was a road upset of what was then a 5-1 Auburn.
For Kentucky football, familiarity seems to breed defeat.
Other than its permanent interdivision foe Mississippi State — which UK plays annually — the other Western foes rotate on and off the Wildcats' schedule.
East teams are on the schedule every year.
For Kentucky, that has yielded a 24-game losing streak to Tennessee. The 23-contest skid against Florida. Going oh-for-the-2000s against South Carolina.
Such annual futility seems to self-perpetuate, creating a psychological barrier the Cats have difficulty breaking through against East foes even when, on paper, they should have the strength to do so.
Kentucky hasn't beaten Tennessee even though the Vols have had losing records twice in the four seasons that preceded this one.
The Cats haven't been able to beat a South Carolina program that has lost between five and seven games every season since 2001.
"The problems we've faced in the East are probably more defined as far as the negative streaks in Kentucky football history," said Brooks. "Getting over those humps, sometimes, is more difficult than someone you don't play on a regular basis."
Turns out, the accumulated pigskin wisdom of the ages, is wrong. Kentucky football's problem in the SEC isn't that it is the conference's north pole.
UK is too far east.
University of Kentucky at St. Louis, anyone?