UK Football

Can UK upset Florida? Five things Cats must do

Florida hasn't lost a game since Mississippi shocked them at home 31-30 on Sept. 27, 2008.

The No. 1-ranked Gators have been humming along ever since, winning their last 13 games by an average of almost 35 points.

Florida's loss to Ole Miss came almost one year to the day of Saturday night's game at Kentucky, and it followed up a rather sluggish offensive performance against Tennessee, similar to what the Gators had last week.

But UK is going to need more than that to knock off Urban Meyer, Tim Tebow and Co.

Taking into account comments from Kentucky Coach Rich Brooks along with evaluations of UK's upset win over No. 1 LSU in 2006 and Florida's loss to Ole Miss last year, here are five things that must happen for the Cats to pull off the improbable upset.

1. Run the ball

The key to Kentucky's upset win over No. 1 LSU in 2007 was the fact that the Cats ran the ball just well enough to keep the speedy and athletic Tigers defense on its heels. Mississippi outrushed Florida 140-124 in its upset of the Gators at the Swamp last year, and Tennessee hung around last week by establishing a running game early and keeping the chains and clock moving.

2. Win the turnover battle

Big upsets almost always involve key turnovers. Kentucky was a 13½ -point-favorite over Louisville last week but almost took one on the chin thanks to three straight turnovers in the third quarter. Turning the Gators over won't be easy. Florida was plus-22 in turnover margin last year, although it has fumbled four times in three games this season.

3. Control Tim Tebow on the ground

When all else fails for the Gators, they know they can give quarterback Tim Tebow the ball and let him bull his way to victory, much like he did in last week's Tennessee game. Tebow threw for 319 yards in Florida's loss to Mississippi last year but was held to just 7 yards rushing on 15 carries. The Rebels stopped Tebow cold on a key fourth-and-short carry late in the fourth quarter to seal the victory.

4. Avoid the early knockout blow

Not that Charleston Southern and Troy had any chance to knock off Florida earlier this season, but they were outscored by a combined 77-6 in the first half. In last year's 63-5 win over Kentucky, the Gators blocked two early punts deep in UK territory to set up two quick scores, and that amounted to "Game Over." The Wildcats need to find a way to stick around and at least see if they can compete and put some pressure on Florida. The Gators seemed to press a little bit last week once Tennessee established that it was going to stick around.

5. Be extra special on special teams

Points don't figure to be easy to come by against the fearsome Florida defense, so Steve Ortmayer's unit will need to do its part. UK has some dangerous return men in Derrick Locke, Randall Cobb and Alfonso Smith, and if any of those guys can either take one to the house or set up the Cats in good field position, that would be huge. UK also can't afford to leave any points off the board, so kicker Lones Seiber must be ready to come through. Kentucky must also keep the Florida special teams under control: No blocked kicks and no big runbacks from dynamo return man Brandon James.