Three major college football teams reside within the borders of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and all three have had drastically different seasons. The preseason favorite to perform the best, Louisville, has performed to expectation thus far. Arch rival, Kentucky, has seen their once potentially promising season laced in disappointment. While one team is performing to expectation and another has yet to meet it, another team in Bowling Green is managing to exceed everyone’s wildest expectations. Western Kentucky University is not only 4-1 on the season with the lone loss coming to Nick Saban’s
ruthless killing machine that feeds on the despair of children Alabama Crimson Tide, but they have defeated Kentucky in battle as well (as I’m sure you can vividly recall). With that victory and other admirable performances, the question has arisen of whom the best team in the state is Western Kentucky, Louisville, or Kentucky (It’s obviously not Kentucky)? So, in order to come up with an answer I used my ratings system to give a more concrete conclusion.
First an explanation, the first two numbers you see are simply a total of points scored/allowed divided by total drives, this removes tempo bias. The third number is a predictor variable that measures the ratio between the two numbers (defense is slightly favored).
There seems to be a growing opinion in some circles that Western is actually the best team in the state because of their convincing victories over Sun Belt opponents and Kentucky. But, this is not the case. Louisville is still the best team in the state, and by a convincing margin. While Western’s numbers are very good for a Sun Belt team, they have not been high enough unseat Charlie Strong’s Cardinals as the state’s best team. Kentucky, however, in terms of un-adjusted scoring margin, is light years behind both the Cardinals and Hilltoppers. While these numbers are good for basic measurement, they don’t account for strength of schedule (a very important factor as we all know) . If you were to look exclusively at these ratings, Western would be expected to blow Kentucky out, but we know the two teams are evenly matched as evidenced by September 15th’s game. So in order to cut through that issue I adjusted for strength of schedule.
Even though Kentucky has played by far the toughest schedule of the three (we’re the only team who moved up in the rankings when schedule was accounted for), Western and Louisville are still ahead in the rankings. While the schedule numbers are still a little fuzzy due to lack of opponents played, they’re still relatively accurate. While Kentucky is clearly the worst team within the Commonwealth, Western is still not the best team in the state when strength of schedule is taken into consideration. That title still resides in Louisville despite a schedule that makes Duke’s yearly OOC Basketball schedule look like the deranged offspring of 1996 Kentucky and 1990 UNLV.
At the moment Kentucky is the worst team, but there are still many games to be played so nothing is final yet. But given the opponents left to be played on the three teams’ schedule’s it’s doubtful Kentucky could climb out of the state’s bottom position. There are many ways that this problem could be solved: a coaching change at season’s end, giving Joker another year to see his young teams mature, or even waiting for injuries to heal, but something must be done to correct this.