UK Football

What will it take for UK to beat Florida

Kentucky is more than a three-touchdown underdog against top-ranked and defending national champion Florida on Saturday night. But nobody around the Nutter Training Facility has forgotten what happened the last time a No. 1 team visited Commonwealth Stadium.

It was just two seasons ago when Coach Rich Brooks led the Wildcats to a stunning three-overtime win against Louisiana State, which sat atop the rankings and eventually went on to win the national title.

Senior defensive tackle Corey Peters was in the starting lineup that night and remembers the aftermath.

"For once, it seemed like Kentucky was a football school," Peters said. "The excitement you see at Midnight Madness, I could feel it as I was walking through the stadium after the game. That's a feeling I would never forget."

Kentucky sophomore receiver Randall Cobb, then a senior at Alcoa High School (Tenn.), was in the stands watching.

"I rushed the field after the game," Cobb said. "I got the vibe from the players. I'd like to feel that."

As big an accomplishment as that was, knocking off the Gators will be an even taller order. Urban Meyer is the nation's hottest coach, and his squad is the current juggernaut of college football, with enough five-stars to match up with the finest of New York restaurants.

The Gators have perhaps the most celebrated college football player of all time in quarterback Tim Tebow and have won 13 straight games, most by a wide margin.

Most of the UK players agree that a win over Florida would top the triumph over LSU.

"It would definitely be bigger," said senior tailback Alfonso Smith. "LSU was a great team, and it was a great win, but this is Florida. They've been the best program in the country the past year, and it's not even close."

"A lot of people still might look at (the LSU game) as a fluke game, like we just got lucky," junior quarterback Mike Hartline said. "This could change a lot of things for us."

Unlike many past Kentucky teams, the current Wildcats at least know what it feels like to knock off Goliath.

"There are some players on this team who played in that game, so they know it can happen," Brooks said. "But at the same time, we have to go out and do things we need to do on the field fundamentally and technique-wise for that to happen."

"That LSU game really established us," Hartline said. "It's kind of the feeling that we did it once, we can do it again. It reassures us."

A couple of facts might work in UK's favor.

The year before UK beat LSU, the Tigers wiped out Kentucky 49-0 in Baton Rouge. Florida crushed the Wildcats 63-5 in Gainesville last year.

Also, in the fourth game of the 2008 season, the Gators followed up a ho-hum performance against Tennessee by dropping a shocker at home to Mississippi. Florida had a ho-hum performance against the Vols again last week and now faces the Cats in the fourth game of the season.

All that said, the Cats know they can't count on superstition. They know they have to play a near-perfect game.

"Sometimes it's better to be lucky than good," Hartline said. "But we know we have to be really, really good to pull this off."

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