LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - With his team ranked No. 8 - Kentucky's highest position in three decades - coach Rich Brooks needs more proof that the Wildcats belong there.
``It might be high,'' Brooks said Monday of the ranking. ``If we win this week, I would say it might've been right. Early in the season, rankings are very suspect in all categories.''
Kentucky checked into the top-10 in a week that saw plenty of carnage among teams above them in the poll. In fact, the Wildcats are the only Southeastern Conference East team without a defeat so far, and only top-ranked Louisiana State is ranked higher among conference foes.
That's fine, the players say, but this week a tall challenge awaits: a road game against No. 11 South Carolina and coach Steve Spurrier, who has never lost to Kentucky.
``You don't stay in the top 10 if you get beat,'' tight end Jacob Tamme said. ``If you're jumping for joy about No. 8, then come next week, you won't be No. 8 anymore.''
Defensive lineman Dominic Lewis says the stakes are clearly higher than they've been for a long time in Lexington.
``We're playing for a lot more now,'' Lewis said. ``Guys are wanting to do a little extra in practice.''
In the past, Spurrier has feasted on Kentucky teams with some of his signature trick plays. This time, the veterans are determined not to let that happen.
``I think we're more mature, more experienced,'' safety Marcus McClinton said. ``We're not as amped up as we used to be. We know the dangers of the cutback.''
Brooks says part of Spurrier's success comes with sniffing out blitzes and deciphering defensive formations before the ball is snapped.
``Most defensive players when you tell them they're going to blitz, they start drooling and slobbering,'' Brooks said.
Brooks, who has never coached a team ranked this high, has been friends with Spurrier for years and says he hasn't changed.
``Confident, cocky, brash and a winner,'' Brooks said.
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