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ESPN FPI projects Kentucky football’s finish

Can Kentucky garner another successful season with a Hesiman hopeful at QB?

Syndication: HawkCentral Joseph Cress/Iowa City Press-Citizen / USA TODAY NETWORK

Football season is right around the corner and the excitement in the Commonwealth is at an all-time high.

The Kentucky Wildcats are coming off a 10-3 season with yet another New Year’s Day bowl win and sending four talented players to the NFL by way of the NFL Draft, and many more undrafted free agents.

Mark Stoops is entering his tenth season as head football coach in Lexington and has transformed Kentucky from a SEC bottom-feeder, to respected, hard-nosed foe and yearly SEC East contender.

ESPN released their FPI (Football Power Index) for next season, which is “measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team’s performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 20,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily,” according to ESPN.

Where does Kentucky stand? Well, they stand to finish 2nd in the SEC East for the second straight season, and third in the last five years. FPI also has Kentucky ranked as the No. 20 team in the country. An 8-4 record seems likely per FPI.

SEC East Standings Projection per ESPN FPI:

1. Georgia

2. Kentucky

3. Florida

4. Tennessee

5, South Carolina

6. Missouri

7. Vanderbilt

Will Levis is a preseason dark-horse Heisman candidate with a potential to be a top-10 pick in the 2023 NFL Draft if he has the season everyone expects him to. While he loses his best receiver in Wan’Dale Robinson, he may gain an even better receiving corps overall with the additions of Tayvion Robinson, Barion Brown, Dane Key and a healthy Keaton Upshaw at tight end.

Pair that with one of the best rushing attacks in college football and the Big Blue Wall, which Is going under some slight reconstruction heading into the new season following the departures of Darian Kinnard and Luke Fortner, and you have a recipe for some noise-making.

Kentucky could very well be favored in all but two or three games in the 2022 season, with a potential huge showdown in November at Kroger Field against the Georgia Bulldogs. In 2018 and 2021 Kentucky and Georgia played for a trip to the SEC title game and the ‘Dawgs came out on top both times, could 2022 be the year that Kentucky finally takes that leap and gets over the Georgia hump?