LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -Kentucky defensive tackle Corey Peters says winning a national title would have been nice, but this team is more motivated by ``baby steps.''
The No. 14 Wildcats' national championship hopes were likely dashed with their loss to Florida on Saturday, but several smaller goals - if you call winning a conference title ``small'' - remain.
Kentucky's players entered the season talking about making a bowl game, competing in the Southeastern Conference and even winning it. The discussion in Lexington about challenging for the national championship game came much later, after the Wildcats (6-2, 2-2) toppled then-No. 1 LSU.
If the Wildcats were LSU or Florida, Peters says, missing out on that goal would have been crushing. Kentucky, with a far more limited history of football success, has humbler objectives.
``I guess we have smaller goals,'' Peters said. ``I guess their fan base in football is kind of like ours in basketball. If they're not winning national championships, it's a failure. For us, it's taking baby steps. SEC first and national championship down the road.''
Although the Wildcats have two losses, so too do Florida, Georgia and South Carolina, the teams in front of them in the SEC East.
Win out, and Kentucky could be back in the picture for the SEC title. Lose Saturday to a much-improved Mississippi State team, and that's probably gone too.
During his news conference Monday, Kentucky coach Rich Brooks was asked whether his Wildcats were the ``real deal.''
``I think we're a team that can compete and can have the opportunity to beat anybody we play,'' Brooks said. ``If that's the real deal, maybe we're the real deal.''
Last year the Wildcats were reeling from a 49-0 loss to LSU when they headed to Starkville, Miss., to play the Bulldogs. They won there and four of their next five, including the Music City Bowl against Clemson.
Tight end Jacob Tamme recalls the momentum swing following that victory.
``We hadn't had a happy plane ride home in a long time,'' Tamme said. ``We said, 'Let's take care of business. Let's see what it feels like to come home on an airplane and not be sulking, have some fun.'''
This time, the season doesn't need to be saved. Kentucky has already qualified for a bowl game and almost certainly will play in one. However, its chance to remain part of the elite of the SEC is certainly on the line.
More injury woes could limit the Wildcats this week. Knee injuries will sideline linebacker Micah Johnson and possibly also receiver Keenan Burton. Backup running back Tony Dixon is questionable with an ankle injury, and starter Rafael Little missed the last two games and could miss at least two more.
Brooks says injuries are just part of playing college football, particularly in the grueling SEC. He's more interested in seeing how his team responds to the setback against Florida.
``You've been asking the question, 'How do we keep them up after a big win?''' Brooks said. ``Now we've got the opposite question: 'How do we keep them up after a tough loss?'''

NCAAF Headlines

  • Here are some things to watch in the Big 12 Conference in Week 9:
    No. 10 West Virginia at Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers (6-0, 3-0 Big 12), trying to stay undefeated be...
  • The Big Sky is routinely considered one of the stronger conferences in the FCS, and this year is no exception.
    It has four programs in the STATS FCS Top 25, with No. 17 North Dakota rounding o...
  • (STATS) - Picked to finish in first place in the Pioneer Football League for the sixth straight season, San Diego is right where it should be with November approaching. The same can't be said for t...
  • (STATS) - The 2015 STATS FCS Freshman of the Year won't appear in another game in 2016.
    Case Cookus is done for the season as a result of a shoulder injury suffered Sept. 24. His return had be...
  • With Baylor and West Virginia both undefeated halfway through the season, there could still be playoff hopes for the Big 12 Conference.
    The eighth-ranked Bears and 10th-ranked Mountaineers hav...
More inNCAAF News  

NCAAF Top Stories

Thumbnail Baylor vs. Texas Pick Will quarterbacks Seth Russell and Shane Buechele light up the scoreboard so bettors can cash the over in Baylor vs. Texas this Saturday?
Thumbnail Florida vs. Georgia Pick Should bettors expect a defensive struggle between Florida and Georgia when the SEC rivals clash at 3:30PM ET in Jacksonville on Saturday?
Thumbnail West Virginia vs. Ok State Pick Will Saturday in Stillwater be a defensive struggle when Oklahoma State hosts West Virginia at 12:00PM ET?
Thumbnail Miami vs. Notre Dame Pick Two struggling programs meet up this Saturday when Notre Dame hosts Miami at 3:30PM ET. Will the two have an...
Thumbnail Penn State vs. Purdue Pick After a huge upset win last week, is No. 24 Penn Statelooking at a possible letdown performance when it goes on the road to face Purdue...
More inNCAAF Articles  

NCAAF Team Pages