Tuesday, October 7, 2003

No hype needed: Badgers ready

Kentucky in need of wins for bowl bid

The Associated Press

MADISON, Wis. - Ohio State is the defending national champion, undefeated and riding the nation's longest winning streak.

Wisconsin coach Barry Alvarez said the worst thing he can do is treat Saturday's game like something special.

Alvarez said Monday the No. 23 Badgers (5-1, 2-0) will be jacked up enough for third-ranked Ohio State (5-0, 1-0 Big Ten) and won't need any extra motivation, not with the rare home night game for Wisconsin to be broadcast on national television.

While Alvarez won't have to worry about Wisconsin's emotions Saturday, he's got plenty of questions about his players' health.

Tailbacks Anthony Davis and Dwayne Smith are nicked up, as is linebacker Jeff Mack. Davis is trying to shake off a sprained ankle he suffered three weeks ago. He played in just the first half against Penn State before re-injuring the ankle.

Alvarez said he didn't know who could play Saturday. The Badgers have relied on their third-string tailback - Booker Stanley - as of late.

He rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown against Penn State, playing mostly in the second half in the win.

Ten of Ohio State's last 19 wins have been by a touchdown or less.

But Alvarez doesn't think the Buckeyes have just been lucky.

"A lucky team that wins and a team that's very well-coached that wins at the end are the same team, because somebody coached them to be lucky," Alvarez said.

KENTUCKY: South Carolina football coach Lou Holtz is infamous for downplaying his team's chances in games. His counterpart at Kentucky, Rich Brooks, is listening closely to what Holtz is saying, with the Wildcats set to play at South Carolina Thursday.

"I haven't heard him say that this week, so that's got to tell you something about coach Holtz," Brooks said Monday. "He's the greatest understated coach on his own team that I've ever been around.

"His team is always too slow, too small and not good enough, but he's also going to be in the Hall of Fame when his career is done because he's won more games than any two or three coaches put together who have been in this business."

Brooks' message to his team is this: The Wildcats (2-3, 0-2 Southeastern Conference) need to start winning if they want to reach the six-win minimum to become bowl eligible. Kentucky has lost three straight to the Gamecocks (3-2, 0-2).

Both teams are coming off disappointing setbacks. Kentucky lost to Florida 24-21, while South Carolina took then-undefeated Tennessee to overtime on the road before falling 23-20.

Both the Wildcats and Gamecocks had Saturday off.

Kentucky limited Florida to just 93 yards rushing, an effort Brooks hopes carries over to Thursday's game.

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