That’s the slot at which Kentucky’s football program currently finds itself in the ESPN Football Power Index, which attempts to predict a team’s performance through the remainder of the season based on how many points above or below average a team is. Its projections are based on 10,000 computer simulations of the rest of the year.
The index updates daily but won’t see significant movement until the season gets underway. As of Thursday, 10 Southeastern Conference teams were ranked inside the top 20. Kentucky was the 11th-highest ranked SEC team at No. 40, one spot ahead of Mississippi (41), nine ahead of Vanderbilt (50) and 20 ahead of Arkansas (60).
Two of those sub-40 teams — Arkansas and Vanderbilt —are on UK’s schedule, but so are two in the top 10 and six in the top 20: Georgia (3), Florida (8), Tennessee (15), Mississippi State (16), South Carolina (18) and Missouri (19).
Toledo, UK’s first opponent, is ranked 77th in the preseason. Eastern Michigan, the week-two foe, is ranked 110th among the 130 FBS programs (FCS foe Tennessee-Martin is not ranked). Louisville, the Cats’ final non-conference opponent, is ranked 66th.
The FPI also provides a projected win percentage for every forthcoming game on a team’s schedule. Based on those projections, UK is considered a favorite in only five of its games: Toledo (82%), Eastern Michigan (92.4%), Arkansas (74.6%), Tennessee-Martin (98.1%) and Louisville (76.8%). Each of those games will be played in Lexington.