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Red-hot in the Bluegrass state

September 15, 2007|From Wire Reports

Imagine what will happen in Kentucky come basketball season.

Today's Louisville-Kentucky football game has created the type of buzz normally reserved for the hardwood in Bluegrass country.

Most of it is coming from 11 large blue billboards in the Louisville area featuring Kentucky players.

Two of the billboards -- located within a Brian Brohm pass of Louisville's campus -- became much more noticeable as the No. 9 Cardinals (2-0) prepared this week for their trip to Lexington to face the on-the-rise Wildcats (2-0).

"I think a lot of our guys use it as motivation," said Brohm, Louisville's quarterback who has passed for nine touchdowns in two games. "You come into summer workouts and you have to drive by the billboards every day. It's something to get fired up about."

As if playing Kentucky weren't enough -- especially this year. Kentucky is coming off an 8-5 season, defeated Clemson in the Music City Bowl for its first bowl victory in 22 years and is angling for its first appearance in the top 25 since 1985.

Behind quarterback Andre Woodson, the Wildcats are in the top 10 in the nation with averages of 53 points and 526 yards a game, which gives them plenty of firepower to match Louisville, which leads the nation with 65.5 points and 692 yards a game.

Woodson and Brohm grew up in Kentucky and played against each other in high school. Both are considered NFL prospects, which, even without the billboards, would be enough to generate excitement around today's sold-out game.

"You're going to see two of the best quarterbacks in the nation and probably two future NFL quarterbacks that are homegrown," Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks said. "It's a very significant event when you can have two quarterbacks who, in high school, were only about 35 miles apart."


Missin' Tiffin

Leigh Tiffin didn't talk to reporters this week. Presumably he knew what they all wanted to talk about.

Alabama's sophomore kicker missed three field-goal attempts and an extra point try in a 24-23 loss to Arkansas last year, so with a game against No. 16 Arkansas coming up this week, Tiffin went into hiding.

"I think he needs to focus on what's going on now, what he can do in this game," Crimson Tide Coach Nick Saban said. "That's what we want him to be thinking about."

What Saban doesn't want Tiffin thinking about is the 30-yard field goal he missed late in the fourth quarter that would have given Alabama a 20-17 lead.

Or the 37-yarder he missed in the first overtime that would have won the game. Or the extra point he missed in the second overtime that Arkansas followed with a touchdown and extra point to win.

He became the laughing stock of Alabama Internet message board posters, who pointed out that he was nothing like his father, Van, a former Alabama kicker who made a 52-yard game-winning field goal against Auburn in 1985.

"It bothered me pretty bad for a while," Tiffin said during training camp. "I learned a lot from that experience. I was just really frustrated. It was just a pretty rough experience."


No foot-brawl

Miami and Florida International played one of the most talked-about games of last season and both have vowed that it won't happen again when the teams meet in a rematch today.

A third-quarter brawl that led to sanctions for 31 players and possibly the changing of head coaches at both schools marred Miami's 35-0 victory last year.

"It was awful," Miami defensive end Calais Campbell said. "We're out here to play football. We're not here to fight."

The schools, separated by only nine miles, have rosters filled with former high school rivals and never before had played in football, which probably escalated tensions last year.

Today's game has a few calming factors attached: New FIU Coach Mario Cristobal is a former Hurricanes player and assistant coach while new Miami Coach Randy Shannon has a son, Xavier, who starts on the FIU offensive line.

"Our players will be better prepared for it this year and I think coach Cristobal will do a good job of making them understand," Shannon said. "We'll all do a better job."


Going to Disney World?

No. 6 Texas will visit the state of Florida today for the first time in 34 years, but don't look for a high-profile matchup with Florida, Florida State or Miami.

The Longhorns (2-0), on the road for the first time this season, play Central Florida (1-0), which is unveiling a new stadium.

Texas has played only two regular-season games in Florida -- losing to Miami in 1973 and beating Florida in 1940. The school has played three bowl games in the Sunshine State, but none since 1965.


Streaking in Vegas

Nevada Las Vegas has a basic strategy against No. 24 Hawaii and quarterback Colt Brennan: Keep him off the field.

The Rebels just hope it isn't the same way they got Brennan off the field last year, when Hawaii took a 42-0 lead in the third quarter and Brennan went to the sideline with 296 yards passing and did not return.

It was the only game in the last 23 that Brennan didn't reach 300 yards passing.

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