The idea of the Florida Gators losing this weekend at Kentucky is almost unfathomable. Since 1980, the Gators have lost once in the series. In that time span, the Gators are 26 of 27 in games versus the Wildcats.
Of course, this dominance is nothing new between the Gators and Wildcats. It was only recently that Gator Basketball became the class of the SEC by winning six consecutive games against UK. The Gators have won back-to-back SEC and NCAA titles, while UK is scrambling to remain relevant. For a long time, it was unfathomable that Florida would challenge Kentucky as even now, UK holds an 84-30 edge in the series.
The comparisons between Kentucky Football and Gator Basketball are not perfect. UK has a very good football history with Bear Bryant and Gator Basketball did have flashes of brilliance with Vernon Maxwell and later in the 1994 Final Four. But the point here is that when a program makes a case for becoming a national power, they need a flash point.
For Gator Basketball, that was the 2000 team. They won a share of a SEC regular season crown and defeated Duke and UNC before losing to Michigan State in the final. While the years between were marked with disappointing tournament losses, the 2000 set the foundation for the back-to-back titles.
What makes the Kentucky game scary is that there are people in Lexington who are thinking about Saturday as their flash point. LSU was the perfect storm; national TV, number one opponent in your building, and an epic triple OT game. But the Florida game is a chance for UK to show everyone that they are legit. And the Wildcats are already playing the no respect card.
If Florida wants to win, they have to understand what this game could mean to the history of Kentucky football. Not only would UK control their own destiny in the SEC, but they would keep alive a national championship chance. The Gators have to understand this. But let's also be realistic here. After last week's events we can't be surprised if some of these guys start out sleepwalking.
Win or lose, this is a new SEC. There are no sure wins anymore.