Sidelines with John Clay

UK plays two teams in AP poll. How does that compare to recent years?

Mark Stoops jokes he might limit Vince Marrow’s exposure

Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops was asked Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, about assistant coach Vince Marrow’s comments that true freshman defensive back MJ Devonshire has been practicing with the first team in training camp.
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Kentucky football coach Mark Stoops was asked Saturday, Aug. 17, 2019, about assistant coach Vince Marrow’s comments that true freshman defensive back MJ Devonshire has been practicing with the first team in training camp.

The Associated Press preseason college football poll was released Monday. The bad news is that despite going 10-3 last season, Kentucky did not receive any votes. The good news is that only two of UK’s 2019 foes showed up in the poll.

Georgia is at No. 3 behind Clemson and Alabama. The Wildcats travel to Athens to play the Bulldogs on Oct. 19. Georgia defeated Kentucky 34-17 last season at Kroger Field in Lexington.

Florida is No. 8 in the poll. After snapping a 31-game losing streak to the Gators with a 27-16 victory in Gainesville last season, Kentucky plays host to Dan Mullen’s team on Sept. 14 at 7 p.m. on ESPN.

So how does this compare to past seasons with regard to teams on the Kentucky schedule that were ranked in the AP preseason poll?

Here’s a breakdown of Mark Stoops’ previous six seasons as the Kentucky coach:

2013 (5)

No. 1 Alabama — The Cats lost 48-7 to Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide, who were still holding down the top spot in the AP poll when they visited then Commonwealth Stadium on Oct. 12.

No. 5 Georgia — The Bulldogs had fallen out of the rankings by Nov. 23, but they still waxed the Cats 59-17 in Athens.

No. 6 South Carolina — Steve Spurrier’s club was at No. 13 in the poll when it beat Kentucky 35-28 in Columbia on Oct. 5.

No. 9 Louisville — The Cats lost 27-13 to their archrivals from the up the road, who were No. 7 in the AP poll at the time.

No. 10 Florida — The Gators beat Stoops and Co. 24-7 in Lexington on Sept. 28. They were ranked 20th at the time.

2014 (4)

No. 9 South Carolina — Kentucky snapped a long losing streak to Spurrier with a 45-38 victory over the then unranked Gamecocks on Oct. 4.

No. 12 Georgia — Ranked No. 20 at the time, the Bulldogs rolled over the Cats 63-31 in Lexington on Nov. 8.

No. 13 LSU — It was a bad day in the Bayou for the Cats on Oct. 18 when the then unranked Tigers whipped Kentucky 41-3 in Baton Rouge.

No. 24 Missouri — The Cats managed to stay in the game at Mizzou before ultimately losing 20-10 to the unranked Tigers on Nov. 1.

2015 (4)

No. 6 Auburn — UK took a tough 30-27 loss to the then unranked Tigers in a Thursday night game on Oct. 15.

No. 9 Georgia — Even though the Bulldogs were struggling, having dropped from the rankings, they still a hung 27-3 loss on Kentucky in Athens.

No. 24 Missouri — UK upset the then No. 25 Tigers 21-13 in Lexington on Sept. 26.

No. 25 Tennessee — Unranked at the time, Tennessee still drilled the Cats 52-21 in Knoxville on Oct. 31.

2016 (5)

No. 1 Alabama — Bama was still No. 1 in the poll when it defeated the Cats 34-6 in Tuscaloosa on Oct. 1.

No. 9 Tennessee — The Vols had slipped out of the poll when they greeted visiting Kentucky with a 49-36 spanking at Neyland Stadium on Nov. 12.

No. 18 Georgia — Kentucky dropped a 27-24 heartbreaker to the unranked Bulldogs on Nov. 5 in Lexington.

No. 19 Louisville — Having already clinched its first bowl bid under Stoops, Kentucky celebrated by upsetting the No. 11 Cardinals 41-38 in Louisville on Nov. 26.

No. 25 Florida — The Gators were making an argument to get back in the rankings when they mauled the Wildcats 45-7 at The Swamp on Sept. 10.

2017 (4)

No. 15 Georgia — The Bulldogs were No. 7 under second-year coach Kirby Smart when they rolled to a 42-13 victory over visiting Kentucky on Nov. 18.

No. 16 Louisville — Even unranked, Lamar Jackson and the Cards were too much for the Cats in Lexington, rolling to a 44-17 victory in the regular-season finale on Nov. 25.

No. 17 Florida — In what may have been the toughest loss of the Stoops era (to date), the 20th-ranked Gators edged the Cats 28-27 at Kroger Field on Sept. 23 to keep the streak alive.

No. 25 Tennessee — Kentucky knocked off the unranked Vols 29-26 at Kroger Field on Oct. 28.

2018 (2)

No. 3 Georgia — Kentucky missed a chance to win the SEC East title when they dropped a 34-17 decision to the sixth-ranked Bulldogs on Nov. 3 at Kroger Field.

No. 18 Mississippi State — After snapping the Florida streak two weeks earlier, Stoops’ squad confirmed its legitimacy by beating No. 14 Mississippi State 28-7 at Kroger Field on Sept. 22.

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John Clay is a sports columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader. A native of Central Kentucky, he covered UK football from 1987 until being named sports columnist in 2000. He has covered 20 Final Fours and 37 consecutive Kentucky Derbys.
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