▪ Despite going 10-3, Kentucky football isn’t showing up in most of the way-too-early rankings for 2019. Sports Illustrated’s early Top 25 includes seven SEC schools, but not the Cats. ESPN’s first 2019 Top 25 has six SEC schools, but not UK. CBS Sports’ early Top 25 includes five SEC members, but not Kentucky. SB Nation (UK 19th) and The Athletic (UK 17th) are the outliers.
▪ Kentucky went 2-2 against teams in the final AP poll. The Cats split with the two teams that tied for No. 7, beating Florida but losing to Georgia. UK lost to No. 16 Texas A&M, but beat No. 17 Penn State.
▪ With all the games now played, Kentucky finished sixth nationally in scoring defense at 16.8 points per game and 23rd in total defense at 337.9 yards per game.
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▪ For UK fans who still cannot understand how the Cats laid an egg at Tennessee back in November, not even Nick Saban is immune to having a very bad game.
▪ Yes, at 19 years of age, Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence is terrific. But at 19 years of age, Clemson wide receiver Justyn Ross is terrific, as well. Lawrence is from Georgia. Ross is from Alabama. Both escaped the SEC.
▪ So the SEC finished 6-6 in bowl/playoff games. Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Kentucky, LSU and Texas A&M were winners. Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi State, Missouri, South Carolina and Vanderbilt were losers.
▪ In its last three games, Alabama’s defense gave up 106 points.
▪ The average margin of victory in the three College Football Playoff games was 22 points. No wonder the television ratings for the NFL’s wild-card weekend doubled the CFP semifinal round.
▪ Overnight TV rating for Clemson-Alabama was 14.6, lowest for a national title game since Bama-LSU in 2012.
▪ Speaking of the NFL and television, it is ridiculous how good Tony Romo is as an analyst. With Romo working Chargers-Ravens followed by Cris Collinsworth working Eagles-Bears, Sunday was a real treat.
▪ So Kliff Kingsbury was fired by Texas Tech after going 35-40 in six seasons. Now he is reportedly being hired as head coach of the NFL’s Arizona Cardinals. Tells you much about the college influence on the pro game right now.
▪ Head coaching candidates that should excite the Bengals’ fan base: Colts defensive coordinator Matt Eberflus, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor and Bucs offensive coordinator Todd Monken. Candidates that should not: Ex-Browns coach Hue Jackson, ex-Broncos coach Vance Joseph.
▪ Losing Udoka Azubuike for the season to a ligament tear in his hand is a big blow to Kansas, which visits UK on Jan. 26 as part of the Big 12/SEC Challenge. Coach Bill Self doesn’t have an obvious replacement for Azubuike. That showed in KU’s 77-60 thumping at Iowa State last Saturday.
▪ Despite finishing sixth in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes last weekend, Bob Baffert’s Coliseum is still tied for second among Kentucky Derby hopefuls, according to odds posted by William Hill U.S. on Sunday. Baffert has the top three early Derby favorites, according to William Hill. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Game Winner is at 5-1. Grade 1 Los Alamitos Futurity winner Improbable is 8-1. And Coliseum is also 8-1.
▪ You would assume that after purchasing 3-year-old champion filly Abel Tasman for $5 million at the Keeneland January Sale on Monday, Coolmore plans to breed the star mare to either American Pharoah or Justify, both Triple Crown winners and both standing at Coolmore.
▪ Under first-year coach Walter McCarty, Evansville was 7-8 going into Tuesday night.
▪ There’s no way UCLA can hire Rick Pitino, not with the FBI’s college basketball corruption investigation/trials still an open question for the NCAA.
▪ The prediction here is that Neal Brown will do big things at West Virginia. The Big 12 is a tough league and WVU is not an easy job, but Brown’s experience, on-the-job training (35-16 in four years at Troy) and, most important, smarts should serve him well in Morgantown.