USC battle a true test of Cats’ ranking

Football head coach Rich Brooks doesn’t need to study Karl Friedrich Gauss or any other mathematician to understand the number 1,143.

He could simply glance over the studies of Sir Isaac Newton to get an understanding for the number of votes the UK football team received from the Associated Press voters to elevate the Cats to No. 8 in the nation.

Newton’s Third Law states that for every action there is an equal reaction. That theory works even better for the Cats.

After seven teams ranked ahead of UK lost last weekend, the Cats moved up six spots in the polls, gingerly crawling into their current spot, and rightfully so — the cautious creep, that is.

UK has joined the likes of Southern California and Louisiana State and is now the second highest ranked team in the Southeastern Conference, even ahead of No. 9 Florida.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Mind-boggling, isn’t it?

Believable, is it?

The worthiness of the ranking is something Brooks isn’t too certain of, himself.

“Early in the season, rankings are very suspect … You look at South Florida and Kentucky — who would have thought they would be in the top 10 in the fifth week. It’s unusual,” said Brooks, who is at the helm of the highest ranked team of his career.

UK is ranked eighth in both the Associated Press and USA Today polls. Brooks said he will know for sure if the Cats are worthy of their position in the polls after a stiff test Thursday night.

The test Brooks was referring to is the beginning of a tough stretch in the Cats’ schedule headed by a primetime matchup against No. 11 South Carolina, a team that holds a seven-game winning streak against UK.

And oh yeah, there’s the “Ol’ Ball Coach” Steve Spurrier, the one they say no UK team can beat. Spurrier could very well receive the Cats with open arms. UK’s a team he’s never lost to, whether coaching at Florida or South Carolina, and a win would give the Gamecocks the opportunity for at least a share of the lead in the SEC East Division and a guaranteed ticket to the top 10, both of which would be crowning moments of his efforts rebuilding South Carolina.

With that hideous history against the Gamecocks and Spurrier, a question must be asked — will the possibly overrated Cats be underdogs when they travel to Columbia, S.C.?


At least to some degree.

“I always try to go in thinking I’m the underdog,” said sophomore offensive lineman Justin Jeffries. “Some people still think that we’re not (ranked) where we need to be. A win will prove that more.”

It’s clear. If the Cats win, they belong. If not, then they’ll have to fasten up for the downward spiral. Either way, it’ll be a ride to remember.

UK has proven it can win on the road in the SEC by beating Arkansas two weeks ago. Even when the Razorbacks ran amok, the Cats held their ground and came back. UK will have to demonstrate that same poise against a high ranked South Carolina team.

After all, it’s the only college game on Thursday, and a nation that’s sure to tune in wants to know what hopes of pigskin delight are boiling over in basketball country.

But to lift the top up to see what’s bubbling, something has to give, and Brooks knows that.

At yesterday’s press conference he pointed out that South Carolina has one of the top pass defenses in the nation. He also mentioned that UK has one of the top passing offenses.

As for the SEC, where Brooks is more concerned with improving to 2-0 than being highly ranked, the story remains the same. UK is rated as the top-scoring offense in the conference averaging 46.6 points a game, while South Carolina is rated as the top-scoring defense giving up only 15.6 points a game.

Thursday night will be a game of flexibility — bend but don’t break. If the Cats are all stretched out and ready for a fight then those high rated underdogs may just come out on top. And it doesn’t take a mathematician to figure that out.

J.D. Williams is a journalism senior. E-mail [email protected]