The Kentucky Wildcats did not land in Monday’s Associated Press Top 25 preseason poll, but that’s not likely to dampen Big Blue Nation’s optimism for the upcoming college football season.
UK has 14 starters coming back from a team that finished 7-6 last season. While the Cats must replace quarterback Will Levis, who was drafted by the Tennessee Titans, coach Mark Stoops landed Devin Leary, the former North Carolina State QB considered by many to be the top signal caller in the transfer portal.
Kentucky also welcomes back Liam Coen as offensive coordinator after he spent last season with the Los Angeles Rams. Coen was considered the architect of a UK offense that averaged more than 32 points a game in the 2021 season when the Cats went 10-3 and won the Citrus Bowl.
So, on paper, it looks like Kentucky is in a strong position to finish with its seventh winning record out of the last eight and also make its eighth straight bowl appearance. But can the 2023 season be a special one in Lexington? We briefly pause from Kentucky sports betting updates to give you our odds.
Odds to Finish in AP Top 10
Following the 2023 preseason AP poll, BetKentucky.com constructed hypothetical odds that you won't find on Kentucky betting apps, on which unranked team is most likely to finish the season in the top 10.
Schedule, Odds Against Kentucky
BetKentucky.com gives the Wildcats 7-1 odds to finish the season in the AP Top Ten. Those are somewhat long odds, but they’re realistic considering the Cats’ SEC schedule features a road game at top-ranked Georgia and home games against No. 12 Tennessee and No. 4 Alabama.
And after the Alabama game on Nov. 11, UK must finish the season on the road against South Carolina and Louisville, two other teams that also received votes in the preseason poll. Kentucky has dominated the recent series against both schools, but both schools – especially in-state rival Louisville – will look to put an end to the Wildcats run.
To finish in the top 10, UK would likely need to go 3-2 in those games, win their bowl game and not lose elsewhere in the season. In the last three full seasons, only one team finished in the Top 10 with more than three losses. Utah finished No. 10 last season with a 10-4 record.
Top 10 Seasons Rare In Lexington
Just how special would a top-10 finish be for the Cats? Well, UK’s football history is nothing like the basketball team’s record.
If that were to happen, it would be the first time UK was ranked that high since the 1977 season. Kentucky finished that year sixth in the AP poll.
While the Wildcats have enjoyed a lengthy run of success in recent years, rankings are still somewhat rare period. Last year’s squad was the first to be ranked in the preseason poll since 1978, and last year’s team rose to as high as No. 7 in the AP poll after a 4-0 start. Since 1977, the Cats have had a midseason top 10 ranking in just one other season, 2008.
Can newcomer Leary help guide UK to a memorable season? ESPN’s Power Index ranks the Cats 28th in the Football Bowl Subdivision and projects them to finish with a 7-5 record.
Kentucky starts the 2023 season at home on Sept. 2 against Ball State. Five days later, brick-and-mortar sportsbooks will open at select racetracks across the state, and UK fans from Middlesboro to Mayfield will have a chance to wager on their favorite team when online wagering starts Sept. 28.
Once they are ready, we will have all of the best and latest Kentucky sportsbook promo codes, right here on BetKentucky.com.