Thanks to the media finally not overlooking and dismissing Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats in the preseason, they entered the season ranked #20 in the polls.
Most years, they have to start 3-0 or 4-0 or something before entering the rankings, but this year they got to start there from the outset.
Then after a 10-point road win over the 12th-ranked Florida Gators (who was unranked Florida just seven days prior), the Cats surged, climbing all the way to 9th as they took advantage of losses by teams ahead of them.
Last week provided another little boost as they jumped ahead of Oklahoma State to take 8th.
This is rare air for UK—the top 10 of the AP poll is not for just any team. Here’s a look at Kentucky’s history in the top 10:
- 1949: Reached 7th
- 1950: Reached 3rd
- 1951: Reached 6th
- 1964: Reached 5th
- 1965: Reached 6th
- 1977: Reached 6th
- 2007: Reached 8th
- 2022: 8th so far
There you have it: only in eight football seasons has UK ever been ranked in the AP top 10, and only in two have they ever reached the Top 5. Not even in 2018 did the Cats reach the AP top 10 (while they did make 9th in the CFP rankings at one point).
A couple of things I’m noticing here:
(1) the Cats have never been in the Top 2
(2) if UK rises one more spot, it’ll be their highest ranking since 1977
(3) if UK enters the Top 4, it’ll be for just the second time ever. I’m tingling with excitement at the thought.
This all hinges on how long Kentucky can stay undefeated, though. As soon as they take their first loss, I don’t think they’ll be able to get back to the range they’re currently cruising in, especially if it comes before the showdown with Georgia.
Hopefully, the Cats keep winning and teams ahead of them lose! To be in the top 4 at the end of the season would be a thrill indeed...