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Where Kentucky stands in early top 25 rankings for 2019

One poll has Kentucky in the top 15.

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NCAA Football: Citrus Bowl-Kentucky vs Penn State Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off of a historic 10-3 football season, winning double-digit games for the first time since 1977.

The exciting run was capped by a Citrus Bowl victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions on January 1st, and now the sights are shifting to the 2019 season.

The final AP Poll has Kentucky as the No. 12 team in the country, also their highest finish since 1977.

As early polls for next year start to emerge, the expectations for Kentucky have been mixed.

If you check the ESPN poll, for example, you will not find Kentucky’s name anywhere.

ESPN Early Top 25

  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide
  3. Georgia Bulldogs
  4. Ohio State Buckeyes
  5. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  6. Oklahoma Sooners
  7. Florida Gators
  8. Texas Longhorns
  9. Texas A&M Aggies
  10. LSU Tigers
  11. Michigan Wolverines
  12. Oregon Ducks
  13. Washington State Cougars
  14. UCF Knights
  15. Syracuse Orange
  16. Washington Huskies
  17. Penn State Nittany Lions
  18. Utah Utes
  19. Northwestern Wildcats
  20. Iowa State Cyclones
  21. Wisconsin Badgers
  22. Missouri Tigers
  23. Auburn Tigers
  24. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  25. Army Black Knights

Like ESPN’s rankings, CBS Sports did not include Kentucky in their top 25 but, did have the entire top four being teams from the SEC.

CBS Sports Top 25

  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide
  3. Georgia Bulldogs
  4. LSU Tigers
  5. Oklahoma Sooners
  6. Ohio State Buckeyes
  7. Oregon Ducks
  8. Florida Gators
  9. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  10. Michigan Wolverines
  11. Texas Longhorns
  12. Penn State Nittany Lions
  13. Texas A&M Aggies
  14. Washington Bulldogs
  15. Utah Utes
  16. UCF Knights
  17. Wisconsin Badgers
  18. Nebraska Cornhuskers
  19. Iowa State Cyclones
  20. Iowa Hawkeyes
  21. Washington State Cougurs
  22. Army Black Nights
  23. Minnesota Golden Gophers
  24. Virginia Tech Hokies
  25. Northwestern Wildcats

SB Nation is also showing Kentucky some love at No. 19:

Other major sites to leave Kentucky out of their rankings include:, Sports Illustrated and Sporting News.

Stadium watch’s early rankings give the respect Kentucky earned from their quality 2018 season. The Wildcats check in at 14 in these rankings.

Stewart Mandel over at The Athletic (paid), also gives the Wildcats respect. He believes that, although the Wildcats are losing some major contributors, the foundation is strong in Lexington. He has Kentucky checking in at No. 17 to start next season.

The Wildcats lose the two faces of their historic season, RB Benny Snell and LB Josh Allen, but Mark Stoops’ program appears built to stick around. QB Terry Wilson, WR/KR Lynn Bowden and an O-line that welcomes back injured LT Landon Young should be productive. The defense has to replace more veterans but will lean on LB Kash Daniel and promising youngsters like freshman LBs DeAndre Square and Chris Oats.

The Athletic Top 25

  1. Clemson Tigers
  2. Alabama Crimson Tide
  3. Georgia Bulldogs
  4. Ohio State Buckeyes
  5. LSU Tigers
  6. Oklahoma Sooners
  7. Florida Gators
  8. Texas Longhorns
  9. Oregon Ducks
  10. Texas A&M Aggies
  11. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  12. Michigan Wolverines
  13. Auburn Tigers
  14. Iowa State Cyclones
  15. UCF Golden Knights
  16. Iowa Hawkeyes
  17. Kentucky Wildcats
  18. Syracuse Orange
  19. Northwestern Wildcats
  20. Utah Utes
  21. Penn State Nittany Lions
  22. Washington Huskies
  23. Wisconsin Badgers
  24. USC Trojans
  25. Cincinnati Bearcats

Kentucky also made the cut in the Washington’s Post round up checking in at number 24.

Patrick Stevens of the Post had this to say about the Wildcats:

“The central figures on both defense (linebacker Josh Allen) and offense (tailback Benny Snell) both depart Lexington after the Wildcats enjoyed a once-in-a-generation season that included an early-season defeat of Florida and a bowl defeat of Penn State. There’s probably some regression due, but Kentucky should retain enough of its identity (and talent) to remain a tough out.”

Washington Post Top 25

  1. Alabama Crimson Tide
  2. Clemson Tigers
  3. Georgia Bulldogs
  4. Oklahoma Sooners
  5. Ohio State Buckeyes
  6. Michigan Wolverines
  7. Oregon Ducks
  8. Notre Dame Fighting Irish
  9. Florida Gators
  10. Texas Longhorns
  11. Washington Huskies
  12. LSU Tigers
  13. Texas A&M Aggies
  14. Penn State Nittany Lions
  15. Iowa State Cyclones
  16. Central Florida Knights
  17. Wisconsin Badgers
  18. Northwestern Wildcats
  19. Stanford Cardinal
  20. Washington State Cougars
  21. Army Black Knights
  22. Iowa Hawkeyes
  23. Cincinnati Bearcats
  24. Kentucky Wildcats
  25. Virginia Cavaliers

Expectations are certainly high in Lexington with strong returners, a great incoming class, and a favorable schedule. Historically, though, the Wildcats have struggled when following a successful season.

After the 10-1 season in 1977, Kentucky followed with a record of 4-6-1. Following the successful 1984 run of 9-3, the team was 5-6 the next year.

Regardless of history, I tend to agree with Mandel that the program in Lexington is in a solid place to move forward under Mark Stoops. While the official preseason poll will not be released for some time, Big Blue Nation can rest easy knowing that there are media members out there giving the Wildcats the respect they deserve.