Maybe Kentucky fans will let a 45-point blowout to open a season go to their heads.
Maybe Kentucky fans will project an eight-win season and a blowout this weekend against Ohio.
Not Mark Stoops.
"They're good football players, they really are," the UK head coach said. "Five straight bowl games, return eight starters on defense, a team that plays sound, good, tough football. They're not going to give you things easy. You have to go earn them."
Never miss a local story.
In the five straight years Ohio has been to bowl games, UK has gone through turmoil and upheaval, including three different head coaches.
Not Ohio. That team, led by coaching veteran Frank Solich, has had the same head coach and offensive and defensive coordinators for nine straight seasons.
"He's building a very consistent program there at Ohio," Stoops continued.
UK offensive coordinator Neal Brown loved that his offense put up 656 yards and had six rushing touchdowns last week, but he knows it's not going to be that easy against the Bobcats.
This Ohio defense held Kent State to minus-4 yards rushing in the first half last week and allowed just 31 yards on the ground for the game. The Bobcats had eight tackles for loss and two sacks.
Returning is Tarell Basham (7.5 sacks and nine tackles for loss last season) and the entire defensive line around him that had 36 sacks a season ago.
"They tackle really well; their guys aren't out of position very often at all," Brown said. "I thought they played really, really well last Saturday night. Obviously, Kent State had a very hard time rushing the ball on them."
So, yes, Kentucky showed it has some offensive weapons, but how will those same weapons look against the Bobcats?
"A lot more of the story will be told this week," Brown said. "See how we do against a good football team that's been to five bowl games in a row."
For Kentucky, there can't be any looking back at how well the Cats played last week against Football Championship Subdivision opponent Tennessee-Martin.
There can't be any peeks forward at UK's first Southeastern Conference opponent Florida next weekend.
"My team, myself, we definitely can't take anybody for granted," Stoops said. "We're at that stage where we need to play well no matter who we're playing."
So maybe Kentucky fans are excited about playing another non-conference opponent, one from Ohio that doesn't carry the marquee name of an Ohio State. But the team isn't looking at it that way.
Stoops made sure of it, special teams coach Craig Naivar said.
"We could play the Baltimore Ravens or play Baltimore Middle School and we'll have the same approach, the same process," Naivar said. "Ohio U. is a really good football program. They've been to bowl games; they've got tradition. They're going to present a tremendous challenge and our guys are aware of that."
The preparation has been identical to the way it was the first week and will be the next dozen more, defensive tackle Melvin Lewis said.
"We're definitely getting ready to face a great school," he said. "We know we can't take them lightly at all. We've just got to prepare the same way we did for UT-Martin, just keep preparing and go out and do what we have to do."
Forcing a fumble or four?
A lot was made of the Kentucky defense's lack of interceptions last year — three all season, tied for fewest in the nation — but not much was made of UK's 13 forced fumbles, which was 36th-best in the country.
The Cats forced three fumbles in the opener versus Tennessee-Martin last week and would love to see that trend continue this week against an Ohio team that coughed up the ball four times versus Kent State last week.
Ohio Coach Frank Solich said he wasn't going to "overreact" about the four fumbles by four different ball carriers, but acknowledged that it's a concern moving forward.
"We'll see as we move on, but I feel we've got the best group of backs that we've had in our program and I see them as tough, physical football players," Solich said.
Keep an eye on: Quarterbacks
Stoops doesn't hand out compliments like candy on Halloween, but he had plenty of nice things to say about Ohio quarterback Derrius Vick, a redshirt junior from Nebraska, who has played plenty in his career but is starting just his third game on Saturday against Kentucky.
"I was very impressed with their quarterback," Stoops said of Vick, who passed for 262 yards and two touchdowns in the Bobcats' opener. "He just was a very poised, very good quarterback. He could run it and throw it. We'll have our hands full this week."
Vick, a 6-foot-1, 196-pounder, ran eight times for 35 yards in that game. In his Ohio career, he's rushed 113 times for 177 yards and a touchdown (last season).
The Cats' game plan doesn't change with a QB who also can run, but the defenders have to know where Vick is. In two career games as a starter, the junior has thrown for 461 yards, six scores and zero interceptions.
"He handled himself very well in the first game, made good decisions, threw the ball where he should," defensive coordinator D.J. Eliot said. "He had an accurate arm, and he's very athletic as well."
■ The Ohio quarterback wasn't the only one who had Stoops saying nice things this week. He had loads of nice things to say about UK's first-year starter Patrick Towles, who threw for 377 yards and a touchdown and ran for 30 yards and a score in his debut.
Of course, his offensive coordinator had a few things to clean up after a first round of game film, including some late throws and some wasted movement in the pocket.
"We'll get those things corrected," offensive coordinator Neal Brown said. "But all in all, I was really excited about how he went out and performed."
Timmons to get shot at punt returns
Fans hoping to see Ryan Timmons back on punt returns may get their wish this week.
After coaches talked in the preseason about the former star at Franklin County being a good option for UK fielding punts, it was Demarco Robinson back there instead last week.
"We were supposed to rotate today, but we didn't need that to happen," Timmons said Saturday. "I didn't get the reps today at punt return, but I'll still hopefully go out there next week."
Special teams coach Craig Naivar said the plan definitely was to rotate them but UK only had two opportunities to return punts. Robinson returned both for 13 total yards.
"He got a little tweaked out, tweaked or a little deal, so we kept him off the field," Naivar said of Timmons. "But yeah, that was the plan and that will be the plan going forward."
Coaches want to make sure Timmons gets plenty of live reps back there with Robinson in case either gets injured.
"It's kind of like a backup at any position, you gotta get him some reps or you end up with him in during a big fourth quarter against so and so and then it's like, 'Oh, my gosh. Will I catch it or not?'" Naivar said.