The fine folks over at the Worldwide Leader in Sports forsee another winning season for Kentucky Football.
According to ESPN’s updated Power Football Index (FPI), a measurement that is based on 10,000 simulations to best predict how a team will perform compared to the average, the Kentucky Wildcats will finish the upcoming 2021 season with a 7-5 record. UK comes in 40th nationally in terms of overall FPI rank, which is good enough for 10th in the Southeastern Conference.
The FPI also projects Kentucky’s odds of winning the SEC East Divison along with the entire conference. Based on those figures, the ‘Cats have a 3.8 percent chance to win the East and just a 0.5 percent chance to win the entire SEC. That being said, ESPN does give Kentucky a nearly 90 percent chance (89.2) of winning at least six games, which would make the program eligible for a sixth consecutive bowl game, which has never happened before in school history.
ESPN also believes that Kentucky will have the easiest strength of schedule among all 14 SEC teams. The ‘Cats rank 50th nationally in that category while six SEC teams rank in the top 10 for strength of schedule. Taking that into account, a 7-5 record almost feels like selling Kentucky short just a tad.
Here’s how the FPI has UK’s schedule playing out for 2021. ESPN has Kentucky starting off 4-0 but immediately dropping the next four games for a 4-4 record before recovering to finish the year off 3-1 for a 7-5 overall record. Games in bold are projected as wins.
UL Monroe: FPI rank = 124 – UK has 96.6 percent chance to win (1-0)
Missouri: FPI rank = 46 – UK has 63.0 percent chance to win (2-0)
Chattanooga: FPI rank = N/A – UK has 98.4 percent chance to win (3-0)
@ South Carolina: FPI rank = 65 – UK has 57.5 percent chance to win (4-0)
Florida: FPI rank = 11 – UK has 32.5 percent chance to win (4-1)
LSU: FPI rank = 18 – UK has 43.9 percent chance to win (4-2)
@ Georgia: FPI rank = 5 – UK has 12.2 percent chance to win (4-3)
@ Mississippi State: FPI rank = 24 – UK has 37.0 percent chance to win (4-4)
Tennessee: FPI rank = 47 – UK has 58.6 percent chance to win (5-4)
@ Vanderbilt: FPI rank = 104 – UK has 79.0 percent chance to win (6-4)
New Mexico State: FPI rank = 130 – UK has 98.9 percent chance to win (7-4)
@ Louisville: FPI rank = 43 – UK has 42.4 percent chance to win (7-5)
Outside of the Louisville game and maybe the outing against LSU, I would say ESPN has it about right. Those four straight games against Florida and LSU at home then on the road against Georgia and Mississippi State will be a hellacious stretch. That being said, Kentucky pulling off an upset in one of them could potentially swing the entire season. But it all starts with beating Missouri in the second game of the season.
Only 50 days left until football season!