Kentucky Football: Can the Wildcats crash the double-digit win ceiling

Kentucky Wildcats ( Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats ( Credit: Jeff Blake-USA TODAY Sports) /

With a third of the 2021 season in the books the Kentucky football team finds itself unbeaten and ranked No. 23 in the AFCS Coaches Poll, so what does the road from here look like, and can the Wildcats ceiling be double-digit wins?

That is something truly unheard of normally, but this team has the makings of duplicating the success it had in 2018 going 10-3 and defeating Penn State 27-24 in the Citrus Bowl.

Only twice before has a UK team recorded double-digit wins in a season. In 1950 Bear Bryant led the Cats to an 11-1 season with the only loss was a 7-0 stumble to Tennessee but a 13-7 win over Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl. They finished ranked No. 7 in the Associated Press poll.

In 2018 the Big Blue went 11-3 on the year winning its first five games before losing to Texas A&M as well as losses to Tennessee and Georgia. They finished ranked No. 12 in the AP final poll.

The answers to that question will likely come in the next third of games with consecutive home games against Florida and LSU, and then road games at Georgia and Mississippi State. The Wildcats get their bye week between the Bulldog games.

Currently, WynnBet has Kentucky as an 8.5 underdog to the Gators.

Those on the outside looking in see Mark Stoops record against the Gators is 1-7, but in reality, the Cats have had opportunities in four of those they watch slip away somehow slipped away with missed field goals, opportunities, and unfavorable calls in the final minute.

When UK won 29-21 in 2018 it snapped a streak of Gator wins dating back to 1986 in the Jerry Clairborn era, the last time the Wildcats won in Lexington.

It became clear then that Stoops had made Kentucky fun and a team on the rise.

Stoops knows it’s always a challenge but is optimistic his team can win this week. He talked about that during his Monday press conference.

"“I think our players know that we can play with anybody if we play well. That’s the point where we’ve gotten to as a program. But we still have to do that. We have to have a great week. We have to play well, we have to prepare well. We have to control what we can and execute at the highest level.”"

If they can avoid throwing their yearly clunker and be upset in a game they should win while going at least 2-2 in the next four games winning 10 games is certainly within reach. Hopefully the scare Chattanooga put into them counts as the yearly debacle and we were able to escape with a win instead of a bad loss.

After the next four games, the Big Blue has a very good probability of going 4-0 with home games against the Vols and New Mexico State and road games at Vanderbilt and Louisville to close out the regular season.

The ESPN FPI breaks down each team’s probability of winning. As expected there is a 98.8 percent chance they beat New Mexico State and a 90.4 percent shot at downing Vandy. That already alone makes them bowl eligible. They also have a 56.5 shot at taking down Tennessee.

Games that can go either way are iffy in a pair with the Cats having a 45.5 percent shot at LSU and a surprisingly low 46. 9 against Louisville. The Cardinals are not that good and playing in a conference is dreadful.

The FPI is only going Kentucky a 35.4 percent shot at taking down Mississippi State. Kentucky will enter this game off its bye and the Bulldogs play Vandy the week before so it should make for an interesting storyline for this one.

In the final two games, the Wildcats have had little success over the years in winning and the chances are not high giving them a 22. 6 percent shot at coming out the victor this upcoming week and a mere 4.5 percent against Georgia.

So how are we feeling here?

I’d believe 8 wins are the basement and 10 is the ceiling. I’m not confident UK can survive this third of the schedule unscathed and healthy. They have avoided the injuries so far which bodes well but the offense has been inconsistent and turns the ball over the way, way too much.

Correct these and the ceiling looks better, but continue this trend and the basement is more probable. Let’s hope Lady Luck has a ticket for Saturday’s game and is wearing UK blue, something Stoops is gambling on.

"“Then maybe you do need a bounce here or a bounce there.Or get a call at the end of the game.”"

Kentucky and Florida kickoff at 6 pm EST this Saturday on ESPN.

Next. Kentucky cracks the Top 25. dark