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Kentucky, SEC Garners More ESPN Love

Posted by Matt on August 17, 2007

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Have the winds of change blown through ESPN, knocking away the biases that once stood against Kentucky and, in some regards, the SEC? I am not sure if they have a new water supplier for the cooler or what, but Kentucky and the SEC has gotten some more love today in the ESPN.com headlining stories:

“… At least that’s what Kentucky safety Marcus McClinton believes.

 

“They better not look at us like a homecoming game, because they’ll be in for a rude awakening,” McClinton said.

 

“They aren’t going to look at us as just a pushover team as they’ve done in the past. We have SEC-caliber players and we have the best quarterback in the SEC. They know that we’re a threat and we can beat them. They should not underestimate the University of Kentucky.”

 

Just what the SEC needs: bravado from Kentucky, which hasn’t won an SEC championship in three decades and hasn’t finished with a winning record in league play since 1977.

 

Unlike the SEC West, where LSU is an overwhelming favorite, the SEC East is seemingly up for grabs. So much so that South Carolina’s title hopes might actually extend past September this season.

 

And now that the Commodores and Wildcats have transferred the 30-year mortgage on the league’s cellar to Ole Miss and Mississippi State, they’re confident they can play with anyone.

 

“I don’t believe that I’m talking smack,” McClinton said. “I just believe that with what we have accomplished, we can talk with a little more confidence.”

 

And why not? Kentucky finished 8-5 last season, including a 24-20 upset of Georgia and a 28-20 victory over Clemson in the Music City Bowl, its first postseason win since 1984.

 

The Wildcats return 15 starters, including quarterback Andre’ Woodson, an ESPN.com All-America choice who threw for 3,515 yards with 31 touchdowns and only seven interceptions in 2006. Tailback Rafael Little is back, along with receivers Keenan Burton and Dicky Lyons, who combined to catch 21 touchdowns last season.If the Wildcats can play just a little defense, it might be an interesting season in the Bluegrass State.

 

“We think we have a chance to be an SEC contender and go to a BCS game,” Woodson said. “I came to this university to help turn things around. We’d been a doormat for so many years, and now we want people and teams to know that we’re a contender.”

 

The Wildcats might indeed be a contender this season because the traditional powers in the SEC East seem to be as collectively vulnerable as they’ve ever been…” -Mark Shlabach – ESPN.com

Link: Improved Commodores, Wildcats elevate SEC East (Mark Shlabach – ESPN.com)

More On Kentucky: Five SEC Predictions (Mark Schlabach – ESPN.com)

5. The SEC East champion will have two losses
Only three times in the last 15 years has the SEC East champion had more than one loss. That number should increase. Kentucky and Vanderbilt will each upset at least one of the other four teams in the division — and possibly more — causing havoc in the East. LSU will defeat either Georgia or Tennessee in the SEC championship game in the Georgia Dome, possibly opening the door for Arkansas to receive a BCS at-large berth, along with the unbeaten Tigers.” -Mark Shlabach, ESPN.com

SEC Love: Southern passion propels SEC to top of conference ladder (Pat Forde – ESPN.com)

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