UK Football

Poll results: Fans predict Cats to be bowl-eligible this season

Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops led his team during spring football practice on March 26. Stoops enters his fourth season at UK with a 12-24 record overall, 4-20 in the SEC.
Kentucky Coach Mark Stoops led his team during spring football practice on March 26. Stoops enters his fourth season at UK with a 12-24 record overall, 4-20 in the SEC. mcornelison@herald-leader.com

Kentucky football fans project the Cats to go to their first bowl game since 2010, according to the results of a Herald-Leader Sports Twitter poll.

In an attempt to gauge the mood of fans as the football season fast approaches — the opener against Southern Miss is less than two months away — we asked readers, “How many games will the Kentucky football team win this season?”

The response didn’t indicate unbridled optimism, but it did reflect the “culture change” Coach Mark Stoops alluded to at Southeastern Conference Media Days last week.

The 455 voters who participated had four outcomes to choose from:

▪ 5 wins or less

▪ 6 wins

▪ 7 wins

▪ 8 wins or more

The No. 1 response — by the narrow margin of 1 percentage point — was six wins (38 percent), which would be the most by a Kentucky football team in the Stoops era and make the Wildcats bowl-eligible for the first time since Joker Phillips’ first season as head coach. Then again, it’s debatable whether a 6-6 record would energize a fan base that has grown accustomed to mediocrity.

A close second in the poll (37 percent) was five wins or less, which would mark Stoops’ fourth consecutive losing season and UK’s seventh straight overall. UK has won five games each of the past two seasons.

Twenty percent picked the Cats to win seven games — which would be UK’s first winning season since the Rich Brooks era and represent a major breakthrough for the program. And just 5 percent — the Big Blue diehards — said the Cats would win a pie-in-the-sky eight games or more.

2016 UK football schedule

Sept. 3 SOUTHERN MISS

Sept. 10 at Florida

Sept. 17 NEW MEXICO STATE

Sept. 24 SOUTH CAROLINA

Oct. 1 at Alabama

Oct. 8 VANDERBILT

Oct. 22 MISSISSIPPI STATE

Oct. 29 at Missouri

Nov. 5 GEORGIA

Nov. 12 at Tennessee

Nov. 19 AUSTIN PEAY

Nov. 26 at Louisville

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