In normal years, the beginning of football season means one thing in Lexington, and Durham, and Syracuse, and Lawrence: it’s that much closer to basketball season.
This year, though, those fans can be forgiven if they’ve momentarily lost track of the amount of seconds until basketball season tips off. It’s the Year of the Basketball School in college football – or, at least the Month of the Basketball School. Let us explain the ways:
– Kentucky (609 FB wins, 52nd | 2,263 BB wins, 1st): Fresh off a 28-7 stomping of No. 14 Mississippi State, Mark Stoops’s Wildcats are 4-0 for the first time since 2008 and 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since 1977. The generation-long losing streak to Florida is history. Behind powerhouse running back Benny Snell, Kentucky is 11th nationally in rushing and 10th in yards per carry while also ranking 21st in rushing defense. Thanks to that, Big Blue is No. 17 in the AP poll, its first ranking since Nov. 11, 2007.
– Duke (506 FB wins, 96th | 2,144 wins, 4th): David Cutcliffe’s Blue Devils are 4-0 for the second year in a row, this time thanks to a defense that’s 25th in yards per play, 16th in pass efficiency defense and 16th in scoring. Three Duke opponents have been held to 14 points or fewer. Duke is back in the AP Top 25 for the first time this season, but the fourth season in their last six.
This is the first time Duke and Kentucky have been ranked in the same football AP poll since the Sept. 14, 1957 poll.
They have been ranked in the same basketball AP poll 547 teams in that span.
— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) September 23, 2018
– Syracuse (713 FB wins, 23rd | 1,885 BB wins, 6th): The Orange is 4-0 for the first time since 1991, highlighted by a 30-7 thumping of Florida State, the program’s second win over FSU in a dozen tries. Dino Babers’s offense is starting to take hold, as Syracuse ranks 13th nationally in total offense, ninth in rushing and 10th in scoring at just shy of 50 points per game. No opponent has come within 13 points of the Orange yet, though that hasn’t been enough to lift them into the rankings yet. Win next week and that will change: Syracuse visits No. 3 Clemson.
– Kansas (582 FB wins, 64th | 2,248 BB wins, 2nd): The Jayhawks are 2-2, but it’s the most celebrated 2-2 in the country. The near decade-long road losing streak is over. A 55-14 beatdown of Rutgers gave KU its first winning streak over FBS opponents in 99 games. A 26-7 loss to Baylor is not a great sign of things to come with the meat of the Big 12 schedule still oncoming, but David Beaty’s team owns 13 takeaways to just one giveaway to date, the best ratio in the country. Keep that going and this team will have a shot.
– Indiana (481 FB wins, 101st | 1,817 wins, 11th): Tom Allen’s crew started 3-0 for the first time since 2015 and now sits at 3-1 after a 35-21 loss to No. 21 Michigan State on Saturday. Three more wins send the Hoosiers to a bowl game for the third time in four seasons, which would be just the second such streak in school history.
Of course, not every basketball school is off to a hot start on the gridiron. Louisville and North Carolina are struggling, and UCLA and Arizona are going through new-coach growing pains. But there is hope for those four schools: Basketball season is on its way.