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Everyone was really a winner Saturday in Commonwealth Stadium. It sounds cliched, almost too positive, if there is such a thing.
But it really was true on Saturday.
Everyone talks about the obvious winning aspects. Kentucky gets a win over a team that was admittedly a bit over-matched. Eastern Kentucky gets a nice paycheck with little travel expense. It only helps Colonel football and other sports.
And let's face it. The paycheck games are a fact of life in college sports now.
But there was more to the Cats and Colonels today than those obvious story lines.
First, Kentucky proved it could win with Randall Cobb and Derrick Locke both out and a freshman quarterback running the show. Granted, UK did not play well early. And granted, Eastern is not Florida or Alabama but it is a good FCS, or whatever they call what used to be known as 1-AA, team. Ask Indiana, which struggled to beat the Colonels in the season opener.
And, I don't care if you are playing the Bugtussle All-Stars, having to play without your two big guns is a challenge.
Eastern showed it is much better than its 5-4 record, at least it is defensively. The Colonels gave Kentucky trouble for a while, which I expected after seeing Eastern earlier this year. Eastern's defense is the real deal and Coach Dean Hood has one of the better defensive minds in the game. Unfortunately for the Colonels, the offense leaves a lot to be desired. As is usually the case when an SEC team plays someone from the FCS, even a good team, size, depth and athleticism take over.
I like the face that UK has played Eastern and Murray in recent years. And, of course, there was the announcment earlier this year of UK signing a four-year deal with Western Kentucky, which moved what used to be called Division I this year. I like those series.
Most of all, football in the state is helped. Games like today's have people talking. Nothing like the buzz that accompanies the Louisville game, but there is still a buzz. There might be some good-natured ribbing, but nothing vicious. In fact, I saw many people today wearting fan gear from both teams. It might have been a UK shirt and Eastern cap or vice versa, which only underscores that most UK fans want Eastern, Western, Murray and Morehead to do well. My gut feeling is that most fans of those schools reciprocate.
That is only good for football in the state.
**Will UK win one more game and become bowl eligible? Seeing that all three remaining games are winnable, you would have to think it will happen. Again a testament to Rich Brooks.
**Will Eastern make the FCS playoffs? The Colonels are 5-4 with losses to Iniana and UK, so you have to think they could make it, but that loss to Austin Peay really looms big. About all they can do is win the last two and hope.
**We will have a slideshow of the UK-EKU game, featuring some Anderson County residents who were cheering their teams on Saturday.
E-mail John Herndon at firstname.lastname@example.org.