Only three ranked teams lost in the college football world this weekend, but two of them (Ohio State and Oregon) were ranked ahead of the No. 14 Kentucky Wildcats. Sitting at 6-1 on the year and 4-1 in the SEC, there is a chance the Cats make a push into the top-10 when the latest rankings are released this afternoon.
If not, a win over Missouri on the road next week will almost certainly push the Cats through the threshold and into the single digits.
Their victory on Saturday night may not have been pretty, but head coach Mark Stoops told his team they have no business feeling upset about reaching bowl eligibility just seven games into the season. After years of hard work, being in the position to make a move into the top ten is something to be proud of.
“I told them, “Don’t ever apologize, hold your head high, you’re a 6-1 football team on your way moving up into the top ten, and we have another great opportunity this week.”‘
And if they do get to that point with a jump in the polls? Stoops admits he’s excited to see the work the program has put in over the years finally be rewarded with recognition as one of the top teams in college football.
“Obviously, it shows you’re winning,” said Stoops. “That means something to us. Being consistent. Again, good football teams find ways to win when you’re not at your best.”
Kentucky cornerback Derrick Baity Jr. says he’s definitely excited for a potential jump into the top ten, but he wants his team to use it as motivation going forward. There are still six (or more) games to be played this season with even greater accomplishments on the line.
“To us personally, we’ll probably look at it like “We’ve got to do something, we’ve got to do something more.” The season’s not over with, there’s a lot more going into the SEC East that we can do. I mean, a top-ten ranking, like I hope we take it how we’ve been taking it. Keep going, the season’s not over with,” said Baity.
Broken hand and all, junior linebacker Kash Daniel feels a better ranking in the poll means his team did their job that weekend, but he’s just looking forward to Kentucky’s matchup with Missouri next weekend.
“I mean, that’d be cool,” said Daniel. “Obviously being top-ten in the country would be cool, but I’m just worried about Mizzou right now. It’d be cool to see that number by our name higher than it was last week. Ultimately, being ranked is great and all, but it doesn’t guarantee anything. Anybody can beat anybody.”
As for quarterback Terry Wilson, rankings don’t mean a thing. Upsets happen every weekend, and he just wants to focus on putting in the work to ensure his team isn’t on the losing end of one.
“We’re not worried about it,” said Wilson. “We’re just worried about us, gotta take care of what we have to take care of. I feel like the rankings really don’t mean anything. All of the things going on in college football, all of the upsets and stuff like that. We just have to worry about us and worry about next week.”
Regardless of the rankings released this afternoon, star running back Benny Snell knows Kentucky is one of the best teams in college football.
“We’re a top-ten team,” he said. “It takes time, but we gotta work for it. … It’ll mean a lot, we have come a long way. We’ve been underdogs for so long, but we have to keep that same mentality.”