Saturday, October 18, 2003

UK taking Ohio U seriously

Cats don't want to be next MAC upset victim

The Associated Press

LEXINGTON - The list of marquee victims of Mid-American Conference football teams this season is long, and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks doesn't want his team to join a group that includes Maryland, Alabama, Kansas State, Purdue and Iowa State.

Kickoff: 7 p.m. today, Commonwealth Stadium (67,606), Lexington.
Records: UK 2-4, OU 2-4.
TV: Insight Ch. 6 in Northern Kentucky, tape delay (11:35 p.m.).
Radio: WSAI-AM (1530).
Series: UK leads 2-1.
Line: UK by 15 1/2.
Kentucky (2-4) will try to avoid becoming the latest team from a Bowl Championship Series-affiliated conference to fall to a MAC squad when the Wildcats host Ohio (2-4) today. It will be the first meeting between the teams since 1987.

"This conference is maybe one of the biggest stories in college football this year, beating up on the big boys," Brooks said. "The MAC has had a great year already, and we don't need to add to that, but we're facing a very good team."

Brooks noted that Ohio took No. 12 Northern Illinois to overtime before losing, and Northern Illinois won at Alabama, a team that beat Kentucky 27-17. Momentum also would seem to be on the side of the Bobcats, as Ohio held Central Florida to 98 yards of offense in a 28-0 win last Saturday, while Kentucky has lost two straight tough decisions - 24-21 to Florida and 27-21 to South Carolina.

"We're not going to overlook any team," wide receiver Chris Bernard said. "This weekend, there were just a bunch of upsets. Anybody can win on any given Saturday."

The quarterback is the key player in Ohio's triple-option offense, and lack of playing experience didn't seem to bother freshman Austen Everson against Central Florida. Everson, making his first collegiate start, rushed for 130 yards and three touchdowns and passed for 144 yards, completing all four of his throws.

Everson, the first Ohio player to run and pass for 100 yards in a game since 1999, was named the MAC's East Division offensive player of the week.

"They're a team that runs the ball extremely well and passes the ball very efficiently," Brooks said. "Based on some of our problems defensively with discipline and gap control and responsibilities, this (Ohio) offense concerns me a great deal."

Jared Lorenzen will start at quarterback for Kentucky, having recovered from a concussion suffered against South Carolina Oct. 9.

Kentucky will be without linebacker Deion Holts, who has been suspended for the game for an unspecified violation of team rules. Kentucky, which has used a 3-4 defensive set this season, might revert to a 4-3 lineup against Ohio, Brooks said.

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