Date story was published: Sunday, September 11, 1994
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Five minutes into the second half, the go-go Gators already up by a whopping 31 points and not even halfway done, Florida quarterback Terry Dean dropped back ever so smoothly into the pocket, spotted receiver Reidel Anthony streaking past two defenders, then hit the true freshman in perfect stride for a breathtaking 65-yard touchdown pass.
Seconds later, the delirious blue-and-orange mass inside "The Swamp" could hold back no longer, bursting into the spontaneous thunder of "We're No. 1. We're No. 1. We're No. 1."
And who could argue?
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Not after this:
Florida 73, Kentucky 7.
Yes, 73. More points than any UK football team had allowed since an 82-0 loss to St. Louis University in 1905. More points than any SEC team had ever scored on the burnt-to-a-crisp Cats. More points than the Final Four-bound Florida basketball team scored in two of its three games with the UK hoop Cats last season, for heaven's sake.
"I've never seen anything so incredible in my life," UK quarterback Antonio O'Ferral said.
Start with a growling group of Gators hell-bent on proving those were well-dressed imposters tossing seven interceptions and scraping out a 24-20 win last year in Lexington. Throw in the maddening snub from the poll voters who inexplicably demoted Florida from No. 1 to No. 2 last week, even after the Gators' 70-21 rout of New Mexico State. Mix them together and the only thing missing yesterday, from Kentucky's point of view -- flat on its back -- was an air bag.
"We were destroyed by an outstanding football team on a day when we were as poor as we've ever been," UK Coach Bill Curry said after the deluge.
It was 14-0 Gators at the end of the first quarter; 31-7 at the half; 52-7 after three quarters. So overworked was the scoreboard, the game clock blew out in the third quarter. The Gators reached 66 with 7:19 remaining. They hit 73 at the 2:24 mark.
"Obviously, it got out of hand," said Florida coach and offensive mastermind Steve Spurrier, now 25-1 in The Swamp. "We did not really plan on it, but it just worked out that way."
Everything worked. Dean, the Gators' latest gunslinger, completed 15 of 22 passes for 201 yards and four touchdowns before leaving in the third quarter. "Since this was the first SEC game of the season, we knew it was important for us to get off to a good start," he said.
Rotating tailbacks Elijah Williams (115 yards on 13 carries) and Fred Taylor (88 yards on 15 attempts) combined for 203 yards. The Gator defense limited the Cats to 68 yards rushing and 198 total yards.
"Our defense was outstanding," said Spurrier. "And we have a lot more team speed than Kentucky, and the freshmen we have out there are something."
Said Curry, "This is the best Florida team we've seen, but I'm not sure they got a chance to find out. It was just no contest."
Nearly from the start. Oh, the Gators did go three-plays-and-punt their first series. ("We started out well," defensive coordinator Mike Archer would say later with a pained smile.) But that was a mere warm-up. Florida would go six more possessions before punting the ball again.
First, Dean found fleet wide-out Aubrey Hill matched up with linebacker James Tucker and capitalized for a 16-yard touchdown pass. Next, Williams darted through truck-size holes up the middle, including one for a 15-yard score. Next, Taylor capped a 68-yard march with a four-yard touchdown run. Next, Jud Davis booted a 31-yard field goal. Next, after a Larry Kennedy interception, Chris Doering made a nice TD catch out of a 5-yard Dean pass for a 31-7 lead.
Next, next, next, next . . .
The thing was, after falling behind 21-0, UK had produced a ray of hope in the burgeoning hurricane. O'Ferral hit Isaac Curtis for a 36-yard TD pass, cutting the deficit to two touchdowns with 12:04 left in the first half. But that was it for the Cat attack.
"They're all specimens up front," said O'Ferral of the Florida front. "I'd love to have a few of those on our team."
Tailback Moe Williams picked his way through the specimens for just 22 yards on seven carries. Through the air, O'Ferral was 12-for-29 for 124 yards with two interceptions. "What aided us was Kentucky was throwing the ball the whole second half and the ball kept hitting the ground, hitting the ground," said Spurrier.
To add insult to injury, just after Dean's textbook 65-yard bomb to Anthony -- "We were in the right coverage and the quarterback just threw it over our free safety's head," said Archer -- UK's Daymon Carter fumbled away the ensuing kickoff and Gator Xavier McCray scooped up the loose ball and rolled 33 yards for a touchdown.
By that time, ABC's regional audience may have hit the remote control button faster than those who saw Michael kiss Lisa Marie on MTV Thursday.
Said Curry, "It was a disaster at every turn."
Said Florida fans, "We're No. 1."