UK Football

Outback, Cotton bowls are possibility with win

Kentucky's bowl picture should be much more clear after Saturday's Southeastern Conference games are finished.

Representatives from the Outback, Chick-fil-A and Music City bowls will be at Commonwealth Stadium for the Kentucky-Tennessee game.

Here are the scenarios if the Cats were to beat Tennessee:

It's almost a foregone conclusion that Florida and Alabama will both get in the BCS. Next in line is the Capital One Bowl, but that appears to be a long shot at best for the Cats.

The Outback Bowl could become a reality with a UK win. Outback Steakhouse founder Chris Sullivan is a Kentucky graduate, and the Cats took a huge contingent for the Outback Bowl in 1999.

The Cotton Bowl won't have any representatives in Lexington, but Cotton Bowl vice president of communications Charlie Fiss said they are keeping an eye on the Wildcats.

The Cotton Bowl typically selects a team from the SEC West. Fiss said Mississippi, Louisiana State and Arkansas are the main teams on the radar. But a Kentucky win over Tennessee could shake things up.

"We've been interested in Kentucky for several years," Fiss said. "We came to a Kentucky game a couple of years ago (2007), but things just didn't work out. We do have interest if things fell right."

The Cotton Bowl will take place in the new Cowboys Stadium on Jan. 2, the same day as the Louisville-Kentucky basketball game. The Cotton Bowl will kick off at 2 p.m. on Fox-56 with the Louisville-UK basketball game set for a 3:30 tip-off on CBS-27.

If UK loses to Tennessee, it would be one of several teams in the mix for a trip to the Chick-fil-A in Atlanta. A third Music City Bowl trip in four years could also be in play.

Bowl bids are officially announced on Dec. 6.

UT defense a unique challenge

Joker Phillips will get an opportunity to go head to head with Vols defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin, the founder of the "Tampa 2" defense that helped Tampa Bay win a Super Bowl in 2003.

Phillips, head coach for offense, said he's taken some of Kiffin's basic concepts and used them at UK.

"I've watched him for a long time," Phillips said. "He defined effort: Don't get passed up. Don't lay on the ground, and no change of speed. That's what he used the year they won the Super Bowl, and that's what I've taken from him. It'll be taxing, but it'll be fun matching wits with a guy like him."

Perhaps even more taxing for Phillips will be dealing with UT safety Eric Berry. Berry, who was the 2008 SEC Defensive Player of the Year, is a candidate for five major post-season awards. He is the SEC career interception-return leader and needs just 15 yards to become the NCAA career leader.

"He's the best defensive player in the league, no question," Phillips said. "You very seldom see that from a safety. Usually, the best defensive player in the league is a lineman or linebacker. This guy's been the best player in this league for two years."

Phillips compares Berry to two of the best NFL safeties this decade, Brian Dawkins and Bob Sanders.

"He's that type of guy," Phillips said. "He's an emotional leader who flies around and makes plays."

Another commitment from Georgia

Nermin Delic, a 6-foot-4, 240-pound tight end/defensive end from Tunnel Hill, Ga., backed out of his commitment to Maryland this week and has committed to play at Kentucky.

Delic is the seventh player from Georgia to commit to Kentucky for the class of 2010. UK now has 18 commitments.

Delic is rated a three-star prospect by Rivals.com and a two-star player by Scout.com.

Delic told The Daily Citizen newspaper of Dalton, Ga., that he changed his mind because Kentucky is closer than Maryland to his Georgia home.

"(Maryland is) about a 10-hour drive," Delic said. "That's a long way for my family to drive to watch me play. But Kentucky is about four hours and it'll be easier on my family when they come watch me play for the Wildcats."

Delic, a Bosnian refugee whose family moved to the United States when he was 6, likes the UK program.

"That's a team on the rise," Delic said of Kentucky. "They play in the SEC, the best football conference in the country and Coach (Rich) Brooks is a man of integrity and he runs a good, clean program, which impresses me.

"Kentucky is the place for me."

Big Blue Meter

This is it.

There's so much on the line that this is perhaps the biggest game around these parts in years: second place in the SEC East; a New Year's Day bowl; the end of the longest losing streak in college football. Getting the Tennessee monkey off its back could be the first step in UK's quest for league-wide and national respect.

But the Vols want this one badly, too. Count on an electric atmosphere at Commonwealth Stadium.

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