Kentucky football: One month from kickoff where the SEC and Wildcats rank

Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Joey Gatewood ( Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats quarterback Joey Gatewood ( Credit: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports) /
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Time to dust off the grill, tent, and other tailgating accessories and update the Wildcat apparel as Kentucky football and the rest of the college teams across the land are one month away from kickoff and the preseason polls are being released.

Kentucky kicks off the season on September 4 when Louisianna Monroe comes to Lexington for a Noon start and Kroger Field is expected to be at full capacity.

This also means the way-to-early polls are now out there for fans to sink their teeth into and argue if their team is ranked appropriately.

No surprise that the Wildcats didn’t make the top 25 lists, but where would you rank the Big Blue?

Lets’ start with what is out there to digest.

Earlier this week  ESPN aired its “College Football 2021: The Power Rankings” show and unveiled its top 25 teams in the nation after a panel of 33 ESPN experts submitted their thoughts and a consensus was compiled.  Six Southeastern Conference teams cracked their top 25:

  1. Alabama
  2. Oklahoma
  3. Clemson
  4. Georgia
  5. Ohio State
  6. Texas A&M
  7. Iowa State
  8. Oregon
  9. Notre Dame
  10. North Carolina
  11. Cincinnati
  12. Florida
  13. USC
  14. LSU
  15. Miami
  16. Wisconsin
  17. Indiana
  18. Iowa
  19. Washington
  20. Penn State
  21. Texas
  22. Coastal Carolina
  23. Louisiana
  24. Ole Miss
  25. Arizona State

This year, Kentucky will face three of those in consecutive weeks with Florida and LSU at home while traveling to Athen to take on the Bulldogs in weeks 5, 6 and 7. How the Wildcats come out of that stretch will determine just how they finish the back half of the season.

Georgia seems like a stetch as the Cats have only beating Georia 12 times out of 74 meetings which includes 2 ties, and four have come in Athens. The last in 2009 at Sanford Stadium

If they can steal a win or even both of the games with Florida and LSU it would set the state for amazing finish in the SEC and nationally.

Vegas Insider and others seem to agree on a 7 win season for the Wildcats. The over or under you want to place a bet on hinges right here. Lose all three and its under for sure. Win a pair and they may leapfrog Florida for second in the SEC East.

Coach Mark Stoops exudes excitement on UK’s Media Day on Friday and you could tell he, the coaches and players were ready to prove something on the field and keep the upward trajectory going.

"“We’re excited. I know everybody says that this time of year. I’ve probably said that for nine straight years, but that’s the truth. I think this time of year you get through the spring, you get through the summer, the players are working exceptionally hard. We have changes, and the anticipation builds up. I’m as excited this year, as excited to get going right now as I was in year one. I feel really good about this team. I love our coaching staff. I feel like we’re in a really good place.”"

Then there is the CBS Sports poll that ranked every team and offers probably a more fair and reasonable rank to kick off the 2021 campaign and that is at No. 35

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Oklahoma
  4. Ohio State
  5. Georgia
  6. Iowa State
  7. Texas A&M
  8. North Carolina
  9. Oregon
  10. Notre Dame
  11. Cincinnati
  12. Florida
  13. Wisconsin
  14. LSU
  15. Miami
  16. USC
  17. Penn State
  18. Iowa
  19. Texas
  20. Washington
  21. Indiana
  22. Utah
  23. Ole Miss
  24. Arizona State
  25. Louisianna
  26. Oklahoma State
  27. UCF
  28. Michigan
  29. TCU
  30.  Auburn
  31. Coastal Carolina
  32. Boise State
  33. Liberty
  34. NC State

    35. Kentucky

This is what CBS said about Kentucky and its starting postiion.

"With three new head coaches in the SEC East, it’s Mark Stoops — now in his ninth year leading the Wildcats — who has become the most-tenured coach at his current position in the division. Five straight bowl appearances and three straight bowl wins have create a fine reputation that can help keep a high floor on these rankings, and I think that’s what we see here with a mid-30s starting point for UK."

I think that is fair and honest. Should Kentucky take care of business and takedown UL Monroe, Missouri, Chattanooga, and South Carolina they will be poised to make a statement in the key stretch of Florida, LSU, and Georgia.

They draw their bye week after that which will kickoff the remaining slate against the weaker teams of Mississippi State, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, New Mexico State, and rival Louisville to end the season.

At the SEC Media days, Kentucky was picked to finish third in the SEC East behind Georgia and Florida.

Every team has question marks and Kentucky is no different. Will new offensive coordinator Liam Coen’s offense work? Will it be Will Levis or Joey Gatewood running the offense? How will the defense replace so many studs? How sturdy is the Big Blue Wall? Can receivers catch the ball?

As we see all these questions come more into focus I think we will see the needle begin to move upward. Yet fumble badly in heading into the bye week and a free fall could easily ensue as well.

I think anything less than at least seven wins is a disappointment. The pie in the sky would be 10 wins but doubtful.  Let’s aim for that 7 or 8 win total and things will be a huge success.

The clock is ticking. See you on September 4.

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