Kentucky football: Give us some loving aren’t we are better than teams 26-34

Kentucky running back Kavosiey Smoke (Credit: Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky running back Kavosiey Smoke (Credit: Mickey Welsh/The Montgomery Advertiser via USA TODAY Sports) /
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Kentucky football
Randall Cobb against Auburn (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Kentucky football will have to claw past these 10 teams knocking to get in

Kentucky football wants to take that next step and be ranked in the Top 25 for the first time since 2018 when the Wildcats went 10-3 and won the Citrus Bowl. To do that again the Wildcats must claw their way past the following teams to crack the Top 25.

As Little Richard said these teams are knocking but can’t come in –  just yet.

Boise State – The Broncos have a new head coach Andy Avalos and offensive coordinator in a weak conference. Last year they couldn’t run the ball well and were erratic passing with an unhealthy quarterback in Hank Bachmeier missing games. Going 5-2 in the Western Athletic Conference and not being able to score more than 20 points against Wyoming, BYU, and gulp San Jose State and then changing coaches makes one question where the love for BYU is coming from.

NC State – The Wildcats mirror image in the ACC the Wolfpack will probably go 8-4 like UK and they have a behemoth in their division like the Cats in Clemson. Clemson and NC State were selected to finish 1-2 in the Atlantic Division during ACC Media Days. This is probably a fair spot for NC State and they do play out of conference Mississippi State in week 2, a team also on UK’s schedule so that will give us something to gauge with.

Central Florida – A breeding school for coaches to move up to bigger programs such as Josh Heupel after four years going to Tennessee this season and Scott Frost before him to Nebraska, but new coach Gus Malzahn takes over a Golden Knights team that will challenge Cincinnati for the AAC title after a 6-4 year in 2020. Malzahn spent the past 8 years at Auburn going 68-35 and averaging 4 losses a season that ultimately cost him his job. The jury is out on what this team will be capable of.

Michigan – Another team like UK always trying to contend but can’t get to the top. Jim Harbaugh can’t seem to ever find a quarterback. The Wolverines hang out in the bottom of the top 20 year in and year out while playing brutal schedules as well. After Big10 Media Days the Wolverines were voted to finish fourth in the Big Ten East.

Texas Christian – This is Gary Patterson’s 21st season as head coach of the Horned Frogs and like Stoops relies on his defense to be the team’s image. They like Kentucky have consistent 5 to 7 win seasons with some 10 and even 11 winners thrown in. Kentucky will have to contend with TCU around them ranking-wise much of the year, but the Horned Frogs will be the top dog in the Big 12 defensively like the Cats. Both teams just need consistent offense. But fans of both schools are used to that.

BYU – The Cougars went 11-1 last year behind Zach Wilson who was drafted No. 2 by the New York Jets in the 2021 NFL draft in an explosive offense. They won’t have such a high octane one this season and historically BYU’s record is similar to Kentucky’s 7-6  which they were the previous two seasons and 4-9 in 2017. There is no reason to think the Wildcats aren’t better than the Cougars.

Liberty – The Flames are only in their fourth season playing FBS ball under Hugh Freeze who has guided them to 6-6. 8-5 and 10-1 seasons including winning the Cure Bowl the past two.  Kentucky and Liberty will play two mutual opponents this year in Louisianna Monroe and Louisville. Surely we are better than Liberty.

Auburn – Well finally quality and a fellow SEC school to compare to. The Tigers did knock us off last year 29-13 and the only Kentucky win in this century was in 2009. Before that, you must travel back in time to 1966 for a previous Wildcat win.  For Kentucky to gain additional respect, especially from the western half of the conference they need to finish above the likes of Auburn. A tall order, but that side does beat up mightily on each other.  The Tigers are only picked to finish No. 6 in the SEC West only ahead of Arkansas. Time for the Wildcats to earn some respect here.

Arizona State – Herm Edwards is a mere 17-14 in four seasons coaching the Sun Devils (ok so they went 2-2 in 2020), but more importantly his seat is on fire with an NCAA investigation hanging over the program.  but they boast a three-year starting quarterback in Jayden Daniels and most of its team back it’s safe to say they deserve to sit above us and on the outside of the top 25 looking in. Arizona State was picked by the media to finish 3rd in the South Division behind USC and Utah.

Northwestern – A team that was woefully inept in 2019 offensive-wise finishing 3-9 turned it around last year going 7-2 and winning the Citrus Bowl. Coach Pat Fitzgerald is 106-81 in 16 seasons coaching these Wildcats. It would be an interesting matchup if these two Wildcat teams ever squared off it would be the consistent just do enough offensively to win games for Northwestern where Kentucky and Stoops would do it by the defense.

Utah – Speaking of Utah here the Utes are sitting at No. 26 knocking to get into the top 25. Kyle Whittingham is another long-tenured coach starting his 17th year in Salt Lake City with a record of 134-66. A team that always seems to fly under the radar but pokes their heads up for some recognition from time to time. They most likely will be moving in and out of the rankings. Can the Utes make some noise like Kentucky in the Pac-12?

There you have it the 10 schools sitting about the Wildcats. So what do we do now to step over these teams?

Win and stay focused.