Kentucky Football: Right at home in the top ten?

A question for the Big Blue Nation that seems to be coming up a lot these days:  Are we really the eighth best football team in the nation?

I think most Kentucky football fans, who have known nothing but futility for a long stretch of time, would doubt very much that this is the case.  Kentucky's 2007 version of the Gridiron Felines are a very good football team, but I don't really believe they are the tenth best team in the land.  A blog called Statistically Speaking (Hat tip: Senator Blutarsky of Get the Picture) points out that our best second-order win (a team beaten by a team we have beaten) is Troy.  Troy is a good team and just beat Oklahoma State, but they are hardly enshrined in the pantheon of college football's elite teams.

Be that as it may, in the wacky world of college football polling, the pollsters could do little (defensibly, at least) about the fact that 5 of the top 10 teams bit the dust last week.  Yes, Kentucky backed into a top ten ranking by holding serve when it should have, and defeating an over-rated Louisville and Arkansas team.  But what could you do?  If UK were good enough to be ranked 14th, and every team above them lost to a lesser opponent, how can you say that they don't deserve to move up?  You can't if you vote in the polls and want to be considered consistent.

Despite the conviction across a broad swath of the Internet that Kentucky doesn't deserve it's current lofty status, I am convinced much of it is sour grapes or outright I-think-I-just-saw-the-virgin-Mary questioning of reality.  SEC schools and bloggers have grown so accustomed to treating Kentucky, Old Miss, MSU and Vanderbilt as the butt of jokes and guaranteed wins, they really haven't adjusted to the fact that we are competitive in the league this year, and many of the league's great powers seem to have fallen off a bit.  What else can you say when Alabama gets beat by a mediocre Florida State team, and Auburn can't even hold serve against MSU at home?

Should we manage to beat South Carolina this week, we will be able to silence most of our critics for at least the interregnum between our visit to Columbia and that glorious Saturday we welcome the Florida Gators to Commonwealth Stadium for a little dance.  So be warned, SEC pundits - if the Gamecocks don't validate your skepticism, you can expect to be pilloried and scoffed at.  It is long overdue.

But if we lose, well, here's one Kentucky fan that enjoyed the thrill ride while it lasted, and even with a loss, we have a realistic chance to attain a January 1st Bowl game (i.e. Outback or Cotton Bowl) if we manage to defeat 3 more SEC opponents.  If we manage 4 more wins from here on out, things could get really exciting.


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