Sitting pretty at 5-1 overall and 3-1 in the SEC, Kentucky is listed as AP’s No. 14 team in college football. If the Cats can execute over the next two weeks, there’s a solid chance they’ll be competing for a spot in the SEC title game in their matchup with Georgia on November 3.
But ESPN isn’t buying the hype.
The Worldwide Leader in Sports released a list of the best one-loss teams in the nation, and the Wildcats didn’t make the cut,
The list? Michigan (No. 6), Georgia (No. 8), Oklahoma (No. 9), Florida (No. 11), LSU (No. 5), Texas (No. 7), Iowa (No. 19), and Oregon (No. 12).
Schools like LSU, Michigan, Texas, and Georgia are elite and I don’t take too much offense to them being listed ahead of the Cats.
As for Florida, Oregon, and especially Oregon? Get out of here.
Here is ESPN’s reasoning for each of the questionable rankings:
Florida (No. 4 on their list):
Florida needs 5-1 Kentucky, which beat the Gators in Week 2, to lose again in order for it to win the SEC East — and Kentucky still has to play Georgia (Nov. 3). For Florida, which has won five straight, it all boils down to its game against Georgia. FPI gives the Gators a 30.2 percent chance to beat the Bulldogs; it’s the only remaining game on Florida’s schedule that it is not favored to win. Any team that has a chance to win the SEC has a shot at the top four.
Iowa (No. 7 on the list):
When Wisconsin lost to Michigan last week, it opened the door for Iowa to win the West division. (Iowa’s only loss this season is to Wisconsin.) Iowa still needs the Badgers to lose again, and it’s possible they will, with three difficult road trips — to Northwestern, Penn State and Purdue — still remaining. Iowa also has to survive back-to-back road games against Penn State (Oct. 27) and Purdue (Nov. 3). It’s a tall task, but if the Hawkeyes can win out and upset the East division winner in the Big Ten title game, there could be a big surprise in the final top four.
Oregon (No. 8):
Oregon would need to win out and hope other Power 5 conferences produce two-loss champions, a similar situation that helped Washington into the semifinals in 2016 in spite of a lousy nonconference lineup. Oregon doesn’t have any nonconference wins against Power 5 opponents (Bowling Green, Portland State and San Jose State were slated), and that portion of its schedule ranks last in FBS. Should Oregon get into a résumé battle with another one-loss Power 5 champion, the nonconference strength of schedule could be the difference.
So Kentucky taking down two ranked teams in Florida and Mississippi State doesn’t mean anything? Or the fact that they have one of the best defenses in college football, arguably the top pass-rusher in the SEC, and a Heisman candidate? And losing to a ranked Texas A&M team at Kyle Field in overtime is just too bad of a loss?
Florida’s one loss is to Kentucky, and that’s all I need to know. Check.
Iowa’s one loss was to Wisconsin, their only ranked opponent on the schedule up to this point. All of their other games have been against scrubs. Kentucky is better by a country mile.
As for Oregon, their victories have come against juggernauts such as Bowling Green, Portland State, San Jose State, California, and an underwhelming Stanford team in overtime. Their one ranked victory came against No. 15 Washington in overtime last week, making them the media darling of the week. I don’t buy it in the slightest.
In fact, I’d argue Kentucky deserves to be side-by-side with the elite crop at the top of the list rather than at the bottom, let alone being snubbed entirely. The schedule and overall success speaks for itself.
Haters gonna hate, and the Cats are just going to have to prove the national media wrong yet again.
If you want to see the whole list with their (horrible) justification for each, take a look here.