Kentucky and Syracuse are ranked in the top 25 this week, and I’m not talking about basketball season. Every week so far, I’ve thought, “this is the week Kentucky finally loses.” Instead, they beat Florida for the first time in 31 years; they defeated a hot, Mississippi State team by 21 points and now they’ve vanquished Will Muschamp and the Gamecocks for the fifth straight year.
The Wildcats jumped to number 13 in the AP poll today, moving up four spots after beating South Carolina. This is Kentucky’s highest ranking since Oct of 2007. It’s never easy in the Southeastern Conference, but there’s a real chance Kentucky could be 8-0 heading into a game against Georgia that will almost certainly be undefeated at that point, too. This could potentially be the biggest game in Kentucky football history.
This week, Kentucky plays a Texas A&M team that looked very bad at times against an abysmal Arkansas team. The Aggies won 24-17, but it didn’t come without stress, including Jimbo Fisher grabbing the facemask of a player on the sidelines that was widely criticized. If they get by A&M, the wildcats have Mizzou and Vanderbilt before Georgia.
Even with a loss to Georgia, the Wildcats would still be in the hunt for the playoffs. They play Tennessee, Middle Tenn and Louisville after the Dawgs. So, if the Wildcats play the Bulldogs close and Georgia ends up winning the SEC, they’ll have a real shot at the playoffs. The problem is, Alabama would also have potentially one loss if that happens and Kentucky is a Cinderella story. However, the committee doesn’t like fairy tails as much as they like Alabama.
So, what else do the Wildcats need to happen? They need Ohio State to lose in the Big 10 Championship, which seems paved for them now that they’ve beaten Penn State. Kentucky would also need an Oklahoma loss in the Big 12 Football Championship Game. Notre Dame is also hurting the Wildcat’s chances with one loss, so they’d need the luck of the Irish to run out. LSU is also a big factor in the Wildcats getting in. Kentucky would need a huge loss to Alabama or Georgia by the Tigers.
How are they doing it? Two words; Benny Snell. He is the heart and soul of this team. Snell, a junior from Ohio, already had 639 yards rushing and 8 TDs. The Wildcats are also playing defense. They’re giving up 12.6 points per game and that includes holding Nick Fitzgerald from Miss State to 7 points. If they keep this up, the Wildcats could find themselves in a good position in January, win or lose, against Georgia.
So, in the words of Jim Carey in Dumb and Dumber, “so, you’re telling me there’s a chance?”