LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It has been "Media Week" in WAVE Country. Western Kentucky and Indiana on Wednesday, UK on Friday and UofL on Saturday.
There is a different vibe around each program, but the one constant at media day is optimism.
The Toppers are coming off a school record 12 win season and two straight bowl wins. Jeff Brohm has won 20 games in his first two seasons as the head coach.
Indiana went to a bowl game for the first time since 2007 and just the second since 1993.
UK has not gone to a bowl game since the 2010 season. The Cats are 12-24 in the first three seasons under Mark Stoops.
UofL has won 17 games in Bobby Petrino's first two seasons back.
What game on each schedule could turn the season? Is there one that could determine success or failure, at least in the eyes of fans?
I'll start with the Cards. The have the highest expectations. Lamar Jackson was phenomenal, rushing and passing for over 200 yards each, in the Music City Bowl win over Texas A & M. They also have multiple opportunities to impress. The one win that would resonate the most would be at Clemson on October 1. The Tigers are the preseason #2 team in the Coaches Poll. They return the ACC Player of the Year and Heisman Trophy finalist Deshaun Watson. UofL has gone 0-2 against the Tigers in the ACC, but both games have come down to the final minute. A win at Clemson would be one of the biggest regular season victories in UofL history.
The Cats pick is simple. Anytime you've lost 29 straight games to a school you play every year, it's jumps off the page. The Florida streak has been intact since 1987. This years chance comes early, on September 10, in Gainesville, on national TV. Mark Stoops came close in his last trip to The Swamp, a 36-30 overtime loss in 2014, a game when the Gators got help from the play clock. No matter what happens the rest of the season, a win in week two would gain Stoops some collateral with Big Blue Nation.
The Hoosiers have had trouble capturing the attention of their fans. The defense has not matched the offense. The product is exciting and they've certainly made some Big Ten powers sweat in the last few years, including seven point losses to both Ohio State and Michigan in 2015. With apologies to Buckeye nation, the biggest bang for Kevin Wilson would be knocking off Jim Harbaugh and the Wolverines on November 19 in Ann Arbor. IU is 9-55 all-time against Michigan, and last won in the Big House in 1967. They last beat the Wolverines in 1987.
Western Kentucky has the biggest statement game of all. Jeff Brohm could earn millions if he orchestrates a win in week two, at #1 Alabama. The Toppers visit the defending National Champions on September 10. Already with a Conference USA title and two bowl wins under his belt, knocking off Nick Saban and the Crimson Tide would be a win for the ages. Brohm played, but did not complete a pass, in UofL's 34-7 win over the Tide in the 1991 Fiesta Bowl.
So it's simple, wins over Clemson, Florida, Michigan and Alabama, and basketball talk will hold off for a few weeks.
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