Stephens: Want blue to go away? Then beat UK.

Brad Stephens

A few WKU students will wear Kentucky shirts on campus this week.

Just because WKU is playing the football ‘Cats on Saturday doesn’t mean the “UK2K,” “GR8NESS” and “Got Eight?” shirts aren’t going to be seen.

By the other side of the same predictable coin, some people will be very upset with those folks wearing blue.

“Why don’t you just transfer to UK!?”

“You guys are still scared to schedule us in basketball!”

“You probably couldn’t get into UK!”

It’ll be the same, tired argument that we’ve heard around this Hill forever.

On one hand, you have the Wildcat diehards, the blue bleeders who were UK fans long before they made their college choice.

These students may have chosen WKU because of geography, a certain academic program or money, but they still cheer for the team they grew up with.

Whether or not you agree with that choice, they’re not changing their minds.

On the other hand is the “Tops or nothing” crowd, those who are appalled that people could dare to wear another team’s colors at their school.

Spend time on social media his week and you’ll come away really annoyed by people on both sides of this issue.

But getting students to wear WKU shirts instead of UK stuff won’t come about by getting mad at those wearing blue.

No, the only people who can affect that culture are those who take the field at Commonwealth Stadium at 6 p.m. CDT Saturday in Lexington.

The Toppers have had three cracks against UK on the football field in the past four years.

The first two games, in 2008 and 2010, were UK routs.

Last year’s was an ugly, 14-3 Wildcat win in Nashville that could’ve gone the other way, had WKU not turned the ball over so much. Sound familiar?

That’s three chances for WKU to beat the state’s most popular university, and three chances wasted.

Add that to a basketball loss to the ‘Cats at the NCAA Tournament this March, and the Toppers are 0-4 against UK in college athletics’ two most notable sports during the past few years.

It’s hard to guilt folks into cheering for one school against another when the record is so lopsided in the other direction.

 That’s the status quo that WKU must change, and there may never be a better chance than this year.

The Toppers, sans fumbles and field goal kicking, seem to be far better than they’ve ever been since making the Football Bowl Subdivision leap last decade.

WKU is coming off a 35-0 loss to Alabama, but in that loss were several positives for the Toppers.

Meanwhile questions seem to float around the Wildcats.

Kentucky’s offense has shown more life through two games than it did seemingly all of last season.

But with two games of tape to watch, a defense that out-played Alabama’s offensive line on Saturday should find some areas to exploit.

On the other side of the ball, the ‘Cats have shown some vulnerabilities when teams run north-south.

Willie Taggart’s power running, tight end and fullback-heavy offense is probably a bad matchup for the UK D.

And tossing the X’s and O’s aside, WKU seems to have some SEC-level athletes on its team who can hold their own in individual matchups.

Even if the Toppers execute their plan, hold on to the ball and beat Kentucky, there’ll still be some people on campus wearing UK blue.

It takes time to change a culture, especially one as ingrained as the Wildcats’ influence across the state.

But if WKU beats UK on Saturday, something more important might happen.

A few more folks might start wearing red.