UK coach Mark Stoops and Penn State coach James Franklin talk about the importance of getting their 10th wins of the season.
Jon Hale, Louisville Courier Journal
LEXINGTON, Ky. – Kentucky football’s historic season has been recognized with one of the best finishes in the final top 25 polls in program history.
The Wildcats checked in at No. 12 in the final Associated Press Top 25 poll released Tuesday morning following Clemson’s national championship win. The ranking marks Kentucky’s fourth-highest finish ever in the final AP poll, behind 1977 (6th), 1950 (7th) and 1949 (11th). It marked just the ninth time Kentucky has ever been ranked in the final AP poll.
The 1949 and 1950 final AP polls were released after the regular season but before the bowl games. Kentucky upset No. 1 Oklahoma in the Sugar Bowl after the 1950 regular season and claims a national championship for that season thanks to a computer ranking released by Jeff Sagarin in 1990. Kentucky’s 1977 squad was ineligible for a bowl game due to NCAA probation.
At 10-3, Kentucky is the fourth-highest ranked three-loss team in the final poll, with LSU (10-3) checking in at No. 6 and Georgia (11-3) and Florida (10-3) tying at No. 7. The Wildcats’ Citrus Bowl win over Penn State leaped UK ahead of the Nittany Lions, Michigan, Washington and West Virginia from the final regular-season poll.
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Kentucky finishes the season with a 2-2 record against the AP top 25, with wins against Florida and Penn State and losses to Georgia and No. 16 Texas A&M.
Despite the lofty ranking in the final AP poll, Kentucky was not included in the early 2019 top 25 rankings released by ESPN, Sports Illustrated, Athlon or Yahoo Sports. UK must replace 16 contributing seniors, including National Defensive Player of the Year Josh Allen and star running back Benny Snell, who is forgoing his senior season to enter the NFL draft.
Kentucky in the final AP poll
1949 (9-3)* — 11th
1950 (11-1)* — 7th
1951 (8-4)* — 15th
1952 (5-4-2)* — 20th
1953 (7-2-1)* — 16th
1976 (9-3) — 18th
1977 (11-1) — 6th
1984 (9-3) — 19th
2018 (10-3) — 12th
* — Final poll was released after the regular season but before the bowl games