If attaining bowl eligibility with last weekend’s win over Missouri wasn’t enough to keep complacency from becoming an issue with Kentucky, the Wildcats got another boost with Tuesday night’s release of the latest College Football Playoff rankings.
The Wildcats (6-3, 3-3 Southeastern Conference) will take a No. 24 CFP ranking into Saturday afternoon’s matchup with Vanderbilt in Lexington, Ky.
It is the second consecutive season the Wildcats have earned a spot in the CFP’s Top 25. They finished No. 22 in last season’s final pre-bowl poll.
At his weekly media conference earlier in the day, coach Mark Stoops talked about the importance of a strong finish for his team.
“With three games left in November, we still have to be relentless in our improvement,” Stoops said. “We’ve got to finish strong. That old saying ‘remember November’ is no joke. You want to remember how you finish.”
The Wildcats will be going for their 40th win in the last five seasons when they open a three-game homestand against the Commodores (3-6, 0-5). Matchups against Georgia and Louisville will follow. An improbable sweep of all three would put the Wildcats in position for a second consecutive 10-win season, including a bowl game.
Their chances of that might come down to the health of quarterback Will Levis, who passed for three touchdowns last week in a 21-17 win at Missouri while playing through foot and shoulder issues that led to five sacks.
Stoops said Levis’ lack of mobility was “unfortunate for himself and for us because we’ve seen what he’s done in the past with his mobility. But Will will continue to work extremely hard to get treatment and be as ready as he can be to help his team.”
A senior who transferred from Penn State in time for the 2021 season, Levis has rushed for 11 career touchdowns, sixth on the school’s all-time list for quarterbacks and just one behind fifth-place Jared Lorenzen’s 12.
Mistakes were costly for the Commodores last week in their 38-27 loss to South Carolina. They rushed for 226 yards, but four turnovers were too much to overcome as they dropped their 26th consecutive conference game. Vanderbilt hasn’t won an SEC contest since a 21-14 victory over Missouri on Oct. 19, 2019.
The Commodores on Saturday will be without starting quarterback AJ Swann, who came away with an undisclosed injury against South Carolina.
“He’ll be OK, just not available this weekend,” Vandy coach Clark Lea said. “So we’ll keep tabs on him and, hopefully, get him back for the Florida game. But time will tell.”
Vandy is host to the Gators on Nov. 19.
Mike Wright, who started at quarterback for the first three games this season, will start against Kentucky while being backed up by junior Ken Seals.
Wright has completed 58.3 percent of his 96 passes for 654 yards and eight touchdowns in seven games and has rushed for 328 yards with an average of 7.5 yards per carry.
Swann has passed for 1,195 yards and rushed for a net of minus-55.
–Field Level Media