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Unscientific Preview: Kentucky vs. Florida

vs.

1986. It was a happier time. Designated the International Year of Peace by the United Nations. Falco was getting rocked by Amadeus. Top Gun was blasting off nationwide and giving us valuable insight through thinly veiled beach volleyball scenes that Tom Cruise may have his zipper in the back of his Levi’s. Ronald Reagan was sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, and just up the road in College Park, MD Len Bias was celebrating being picked by the Boston Celtics by overdosing on Bolivian dancing dust. My, my, how times change. 1986 was also the last time Kentucky was able to put a W up against the Florida Gators. Before that epic 10-3 shootout, the Cats last beat Florida in 1979. But hey… that was in Gainesville!

This year, Rich Brooks rolls into The Swamp with arguably the most unknown quantity on the planet. Kentucky sits at 5-2, and after 7 games in, I know less about this team now than I did 7 weeks ago. Can Hartline perform at a decent level in the SEC? 75% of the season says no. The last 6 minutes of the Arkansas game screams, “Yes! Yes! A thousand times, yes!”. Unknown quantities litter the field, thanks largely in part to injuries. Dicky Lyons? Out. Derrick Locke? Out. Myron Pryor? Out. Doubtful are linebacker and defensive captain Braxton Kelly, linebacker Johnny Williams, safety Marcus McClinton and cornerback David Jones. Suffice to say, this isn’t a Kentucky team at full strength.

As for Florida, they are the walking wounded as well, because, you know, playing in the proverbial meat grinder of the SEC means all your ligaments belong to the the angry football Gods who demand athlete sacrifice to feed their bloodlust. Lineman Jim Tartt is out and Emmanuel Moody doubtful for the Gators as they attempt to do what every Gator team in 21 years has done… beat the Cats. Let that sink in. A senior on that team in 1986 could very well have had a son on this year’s team. That’s generational ass whoopings and what does that make me want to do?

This…

Puke-tastic.

Offense: The bad part is that Kentucky’s weakness this year is clearly the offensive side of the football. The worse part is that everyone knows it. If a horrific movie monster walked into the living room of a secluded cabin full of co-eds and announced, “Hey everyone… I’m going to be murdering you all after dark tonight. And by the way… I’m defeated by table salt”, suddenly it doesn’t really strike fear into the hearts of opposing defenses.

For Florida, it’s simply business as usual in Gator Nation. The two-deep is loaded with talent, there’s more speed than in Jesse Spano’s locker, and Tim Tebow is back. It’s running back by committee in Gainesville, but their committee is better than most anyone else’s. Simply put, as we said in July when we named Florida our preseason #1, it’s a great time to be a Florida Gator.
Advantage:

Defense: It’s hard to really evaluate this Kentucky defense. On one hand, they’re statistically daunting, or at least they had been until South Carolina and Arkansas. Then you factor in the injuries. And it’s anyone’s guess as to what defensive team shows up. They are just as likely to hold Florida under 20 as they are to give up 40.

For the Gators, they’re 5th to Kentucky’s 7th in total defense in the SEC, 4th against the run and 6th against the pass (Kentucky is 3rd versus the pass and 9th against the rush). What does that mean for Florida? It means where they are weakest defensively, Kentucky is weakest offensively. Assuming the end of Arkansas was the anomaly and not the norm. The problem is just that even when saying the defense is Florida’s problem, Kentucky isn’t talented enough for it to really make much of a difference.
Advantage:

Coaching: Rich Brooks? 0-5 against the Gators. Urban Meyer? 3-0 against the Cats. Pretty much sums it up. I love Papaw and am thankful that he saved this program, but if I had the chance to get Urban Meyer, I would toss Brooks out on his wrinkled ass in a heartbeat.
Advantage:

Random Page 1 Google Image Search for “Gator”:

Random Page 1 Google Image Search for “Wildcat”:

Advantage: Despite the manliness that is a Burt Reynolds movie promo poster, Wildcats is the best football movie released in the 80’s starring Goldie Hawn. Ever.

Overall: This Kentucky team at full strength would be hard pressed to walk into Gainesville and get a win. As for this current walking wounded team of Kentucky Wildcats, it will be next to impossible. The game itself will tell us all virtually nothing about the team, as even a blow out loss would be mitigated by the injuries, offensive stagnation, etc. Having said that, this Kentucky team has everything in the making for a ridiculous blow out. Emotional win last week against Arkansas, laden with injuries, subpar offensive unit. Florida just got done spanking LSU, they need large margins to gain votes in the polls, and they have young talent on the roster looking for big plays to get big playing time. When considering all that, I expect nothing from this Kentucky team and hope at the end of the day I’m pleasantly surprised.

Prediction:
Kentucky 10
Florida 35

One Response

  1. Goldie over Burt?

    No wonder UK lost.

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