Kentucky has developed serious momentum in recent years under Mark Stoops, and to an extent, it’s at the expense of some programs in the Midwest as the Wildcats have taken advantage of that recruiting footprint.

Now came the news this week that Michigan State coach Mel Tucker did not vote Kentucky, which finished 10-3 and won the Citrus Bowl, in the final top 25 coaches poll, one of only 2 coaches to do that out of 62. San Diego State’s Brady Hoke was the other. Kentucky checked in at No. 15 in the final poll. That was the latest example of what Michigan State has done to bolster the rivalry, as Jon Hale of the Courier-Journal pointed out:

Michigan State coach Mel Tucker made an unsuccessful attempt to lure Kentucky recruiting coordinator Vince Marrow to his inaugural staff in February 2020. The Wildcats then landed linebacker Luke Fulton and receiver Tre’Von Morgan as transfers from Michigan State last offseason.

The budding rivalry reached a new level when Kentucky had to fight off a last-minute effort from Tucker and Michigan State to flip five-star offensive tackle commitment Kiyaunta Goodwin, a Louisville native who played for Charlestown High School in Southern Indiana, on signing day in December.

Tucker’s ballot had Iowa, the team Kentucky beat in the Citrus Bowl, 25th. He ranked his own team sixth, three spots behind archrival Michigan, who the Spartans beat in the regular season.

Marrow responded to the news by a tweet, where he wrote, “You can’t stop what’s coming. UK football is a top 25 program deal with it 4 straight bowl wins facts is facts.”