Kentucky football: Wildcats move to No. 7 Cats tie highest ranking in 25 years

Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Barion Brown (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports)
Kentucky Wildcats wide receiver Barion Brown (Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports) /

Kentucky football fans have waited a long time to eagerly look at the football rankings when they are released each week, and it has been worth the wait as the Wildcats climbed another spot to No. 7 in the Associated Press Poll – the highest in 25 years.

The Wildcats had to earn a hard-fought 31-23 win in their final early season non-conference slate of games over Northern Illinois on Saturday and remain unbeaten at 4-0.

However, it wasn’t just Kentucky that had to stave off upset bids as 8 of the top 10 teams on Saturday won by less than a touchdown. UK (4-0, 1-0) moved up a spot as Oklahoma lost to Kansas State 41-34  and tumbled 12 spots to No. 18.

Kentucky football fans are now relishing a ranking it hasn’t seen in a generation as the last Wildcat team to be ranked this high was in 1977. They stayed put at No 7 from weeks 8 through 13 that year on their way to a 10-1 record and finished ranked at No. 6 led by quarterback Derrick Ramsey.

Over in the Coaches Poll, the Wildcats also moved up a spot to No. 8 as the only difference between the pools as the coaches continue to put Oklahoma State just ahead of Kentucky while the AP writers keep them back two places.

But now the 2022 Kentucky football season is really just beginning with a slate of 7 straight Southeastern Conference games and a trip to Oxford, Mississippi on Saturday to play the No. 11 ranked Old Miss Rebels.

A total of seven SEC teams are ranked this week and if this Kentucky football team wants to remain ranked in the top 10 in its quest for an SEC East showdown with Georgia in the final conference game to round out the conference play just before Thanksgiving they must keep winning.

It won’t be easy but they have a quarterback who could be one of the first two signal callers to be drafted in the NFL this year in Will Levis running the show.

They also get a huge boost to a struggling running game as Chris Rodriguez returns after serving a four-game suspension. C-Rod should be plenty hungry and hopefully has been figuring out how to make an immediate impact this weekend.

Early odds at Fanduel have Ole Miss as an early 6.5-point favorite, but it will be interesting to see where that moves especially if odds makers haven’t paid attention to the Rodrguez return. Kickoff is set for Noon EST on ESPN.

But hey that’s fine with us as Kentucky still always plays better with a chip on its shoulder just ask Florida whom we went down and beat 26-16 in the Swamp again in Week 2.

Coach Mark Stoops continues to improve his record at Kentucky which now stands at 63-53, but he is 0-2 against the Rebels losing a pair of heartbreakers falling 42-41 in 2020 and 37-34 in 2017 with each game played in Lexington.

Ole Miss owns the series 28-14-1 with Kentucky last winning 30-13 in 2011. The last UK win in Oxford was in 1978 by a score of 24-17.

Georgia (55 1st-place votes)

2.  Alabama (4)

3. Ohio State (4)

4. Michigan

5. Clemson

6. USC

7. Kentucky

8. Tennessee

9. Oklahoma State

10. NC State

11. Penn State

12. Utah

13. Oregon

14. Ole Miss

15. Washington

16. Baylor

17. Texas A&M

18. Oklahoma

19. BYU

20. Arkansas

21. Minnesota

22. Wake Forest

23. Florida State

24. Pittsburgh

25. Kansas State

Next. 3 stars from UK win over N. Illinois. dark