Kentucky football: Lack of quality wins keeping Wildcats out of Top 25
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Kentucky’s 5-1 record hasn’t been enough to crack the rankings. Of the 20 Power 5 teams with one loss or fewer, only two aren’t ranked: Kentucky and Virginia. SEC Country’s Kyle Tucker detailed why the one-loss Wildcats aren’t receiving more respect, and he offered a few reasons why Kentucky fans should be excited about the second half of the season.
So, why aren’t the Wildcats ranked? That’s the question of the day for Monday, and it was sparked by a Facebook comment from Allan Taylor: “It is because we have had a favorable schedule and won the games we were favored to win,” Allan wrote. “To climb up in polls and recognition, you have to upset a couple teams to get that respect.”
Mark Stoops’ squad deserves all the credit for a 5-1 start, but it’s been a bumpy season. On one hand, Kentucky is a 1-point loss to Florida from being undefeated. On the other hand, single-digit wins against Southern Miss, Eastern Michigan and Missouri weren’t exactly inspiring.
A lack of quality wins is the reason Kentucky isn’t ranked. The Wildcats checked in at No. 30 in the AP pll and received just eight votes. Kentucky is closer to cracking the obsolete coaches poll at No. 26.
Kentucky’s best win of the season is obvious: a 23-13 victory at South Carolina in Week 3. But here’s a harder question: What is Kentucky’s second-best win? The two viable options are a 24-17 win at Southern Miss in the season opener or a 40-34 victory against Missouri last weekend — a Tigers team that’s yet to win a conference game.
ESPN’s Football Power Index is no friend of the Cats. The formula ranks Kentucky 50th in the nation despite its 5-1 start. That standing is probably due to the lack of quality wins. According to ESPN “the FPI measures team’s true strength on net points scale; expected point margin vs average opponent on neutral field.”
According to the FPI, Kentucky’s highest game score by a wide margin was at South Carolina. The next-best score came in Kentucky’s win at Southern Miss in Week 1.
Saturday will reveal a lot about this Kentucky team. A win on the road at Mississippi State would almost certainly move Kentucky into the top 25 and it would give the Cats their second quality win of the season.
If that happens, watch out. Kentucky would likely be favored in its next three games and the possibility of a 9-1 start would gain traction.