UK Football

UK outside top 10 in final football polls. See where Cats stand in 2019 preseason rankings.

Mark Stoops: ‘We had so much fun it ought to be illegal’

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team's 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The win gave UK 10 victories in a season for the first time since 1977.
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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops talks to the media after his team's 27-24 win over Penn State in the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Florida, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2019. The win gave UK 10 victories in a season for the first time since 1977.

For Kentucky football fans looking for conspiracy theories and perceived slights around all corners, the final college football rankings gave them plenty of fodder Tuesday, but the Cats did get some nods of respect in a couple of early 2019 preseason rankings.

The Associated Press placed Kentucky No. 12 in the nation in its final football poll, released in the wee hours Tuesday morning. Meanwhile, Florida, a team UK beat decisively in The Swamp, ranked tied for seventh with Georgia.

In the Coaches Poll released Tuesday afternoon, Kentucky ranked No. 11, supplanting Central Florida in the coaches’ estimation. Florida, again, ranked higher at No. 6 ahead of both LSU and Georgia.

In addition to losing at home to the Cats, Florida took a bad home loss to Missouri, but its wins over Michigan and LSU and, no doubt, its pedigree held more sway with voters than Kentucky’s wins over a ranked Penn State, Mississippi State and the Gators. Kentucky never recovered from its loss at Tennessee in the voters’ eyes, it seems.

Maybe more disheartening for fans was ESPN’s self-proclaimed “Football Power Index,” which purported to rank teams by a formula that assesses how often they would beat a regular common opponent. The FPI, which consistently undervalued Kentucky from the outset (No. 52 in preseason), put the Cats at No. 26 in its final update. Penn State, Mississippi State and Florida ranked Nos. 8, 9 and 11 on this list, respectively.

Two national outlets placed Kentucky in their preseason top 25s for 2019, even though Kentucky got no love from the ESPN, NCAA.com or 247Sports.com “way-too-early” rankings, with each outlet placing Florida, Missouri and Penn State, all teams UK beat in 2018, on their lists.

SB Nation posted its list on Twitter and put the Cats at No. 19.

Stewart Mandel editor-in-chief at The Athletic, an online subscription publication, ranked the Cats at No. 17 next season.

“The Wildcats lose the two faces of their historic season, RB Benny Snell and LB Josh Allen, but Mark Stoops’ program appears built to stick around,” Mandel stated.

2019 UK football schedule

(Home games in capital letters)

Aug. 31: TOLEDO

Sept. 7: EASTERN MICHIGAN

Sept. 14: FLORIDA

Sept. 21: At Mississippi State

Sept. 28: At South Carolina

Oct. 12: ARKANSAS

Oct. 19: At Georgia

Oct. 26: MISSOURI

Nov. 9: TENNESSEE

Nov. 16: At Vanderbilt

Nov. 23: UT MARTIN

Nov. 30: LOUISVILLE

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