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Can Cats finish strong? Is upset alert really a sign of respect?

Can Kentucky avoid an upset against Vanderbilt, a 13-point underdog, Saturday?
(Jeff Houchin Photo)


Could Kentucky fail to finish the second half of the season the way it started the first half?

It’s happened before and while the schedule does not look as daunting this year as it has some other season, Kentucky coach Mark Stoops tries not to look back.

“I look at last year’s game immediately after the bye week. I did look at that. And look at the science behind that, the sports science behind what we did. So yes, I am making some changes there,” Stoops said this week as UK gets set to host Vanderbilt Saturday night.

“There’s some things that were brought to my attention with how we played and what we did rep wise, and things like that. As far as the rest of the season, we’re going to do what we do.”

Kentucky started 6-2 last season, but finished 7-6. In 2015, UK ended up 5-7 after a 4-1 start. In 2014, the Cats started 5-1 only to lose six straight and finish 5-7.

Then Stoops dropped his zinger.

“We’ve had some strong finishes, too,” the UK coach said.

That didn’t keep SEC Network analyst Marcus Spears from putting Kentucky on upset alert this week. While some Kentucky fans seemed to take that as a sign of disrespect for Kentucky, former UK defensive back Van Hiles had a different perspective.

“Isn’t it a good thing to be on upset alert? That means that we are favorite to win and that we should beat our opponent with no problem,” Hiles said. “Now if everything lines up perfectly for our opponent, they have a chance to beat us. I would rather be on upset alert every week.

“If professional athletes can lay eggs on a given week, it should be expected from college athletes to have a bad week. The student athlete has a lot of variables that can affect their prep for the week that I really believe fans don’t consider.”

But fans will like what SEC Network studio host Peter Burns said on air earlier this week about UK.

“That crowd is starting to believe it in Kentucky. I’ve heard from more Kentucky fans than even after they beat Florida,” Burns said. “You know why? Because with Georgia going down, this thing is absolutely within reach, a trip to Atlanta (for the SEC championship game)
“I’ll be honest with you, I’m picking Kentucky to win the SEC East now because of that schedule. The Kentucky Wildcats will be in Atlanta.”



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