By LARRY VAUGHT
Kentucky has been to back to back bowl games under coach Mark Stoops and returns all-SEC running back Benny Snell, a veteran offensive line and more defensive talent than it has had in any previous season under Mark Stoops. So that has to mean more respect for the Cats in 2019, right?
No, it does not. Or at least not based on the 2018 preseason rankings put out by USA Today. The Cats are listed No. 73.
To put that in perspective, UK was No. 71 last year and after going to a bowl game and returning the players it is, one would have assumed the Cats would have been projected a lot higher this season.
Three UK SEC opponents — Georgia, Mississippi State and South Carolina — are all ranked in the top 25. Texas A&M is No. 31, Florida 53rd, Missouri 56th and Tennessee 66th. Kentucky plays all four of them.
Vanderbilt at No. 83 is the only SEC team on UK’s schedule ranked below the Cats.
Want more bad news? Louisville at No. 31 and Middle Tennessee at No. 63 are both ranked higher than UK. That’s eight teams on the schedule ranked above UK and shows the lack of respect for Stoops’ team going into next season.