Kentucky Falls to No. 9 Florida in SEC Opener
Sept. 25, 2010
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) - Trey Burton switched numbers this week, going from 13 to 8. Maybe he should have put on Florida's familiar No. 15.
He sure looked like Tim Tebow. A smaller, faster version anyway.
Burton scored six touchdowns, breaking the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner's school record, and the ninth-ranked Gators beat Kentucky for the 24th consecutive time, 48-14 Saturday night.
The freshman became the fourth player in Southeastern Conference history to score six times in a single game and first since Auburn's Cadillac Williams in 2003.
"Trey Burton was just fantastic," coach Urban Meyer said. "There's a lot of great players that have played in this stadium. I think he broke some record. That's tremendous."
Burton's big night helped Florida end its offensive slump and gave Meyer a memorable milestone.
Meyer became the sixth fastest coach in NCAA history to reach 100 career wins. He improved to 100-18 at Florida, Utah and Bowling Green, hitting the century mark faster than anyone except Gil Dobie (108 games), George Woodruff (109), Bud Wilkinson (111), Fielding Yost (114) and Knute Rockne (117).
"I feel very blessed," Meyer said. "Thinking about some of these coaches who I've known for a long time don't get to coach players like I get to coach and don't get to coach at places like I get to coach, so I'm very humbled and appreciative and I told our players that."
Now, Meyer and the Gators (4-0, 2-0 SEC) get their long-awaited rematch with defending national champion and top-ranked Alabama.
The Crimson Tide hammered Florida in last year's SEC title game and ended the Gators' shot at winning back-to-back national championships. Florida would love a little payback.
The Gators can only hope they play like they did against Kentucky (3-1, 0-1).
Florida, which didn't score in the first quarter of its first three games, gouged the Wildcats for touchdowns on its first two drives.
"They definitely threw the first punches and we were on our heels for the first couple series," Kentucky center Matt Smith said.
The Gators cooled off in the second quarter, punting twice and throwing an interception, but were equally dominant after the break. They finished with 466 yards, considerably more than their first three games (212 vs. Miami (Ohio), 330 vs. South Florida and 288 vs. Tennessee).
Burton, a 6-foot-2, 222-pounder who has lined up at quarterback, receiver and tight end this season, did most of his damage from the wildcat formation. He scored on runs of 11, 10, 9, 3 and 7 yards - giving Florida a short-yardage ace to replace Tebow.
"He's the best football player to ever play college football," said Burton, who also scored on an 11-yard reception. "It's an honor to be in the same sentence as him."
Burton's final TD run put an exclamation mark on another lopsided game against Kentucky. The Wildcats have been outscored 152-26 in the last three meetings, including 73-0 in the opening 15 minutes.
Burton's six scores broke Tebow's record set in 2007 at South Carolina. He nearly became the second player in school history with touchdowns rushing, receiving and passing. But Omarius Hines tripped making a 42-yard catch and got tackled from behind.
Hines had nothing but green grass in front of him when Burton rolled right and threw deep. Burton picked up his teammate, scoring from 7 yards out a few plays later.
Burton finished with five carries for 40 yards and five receptions for 37 yards. His completion was Florida's longest of the season.
"I thought he was a good player when we recruited him," Meyer said. "But we had no idea what we had until we figured it out during training camp. Versatility, intelligence and competitiveness, those are things you just don't know until you get your hands on a player. He really did well."
John Brantley completed 24 of 35 passes for 248 yards, eclipsing the 200-yard mark for the first time this season. Brantley also snapped a streak of 156 passes without an interception.
"We had a bunch of guys play their best game as Gators," Meyer said.
The only downer for Florida was an injury to running back Jeff Demps, who left in the second half with a sprained foot.
Kentucky's lone highlights came from Chris Matthews, who had six catches for 114 yards and two scores.
Matthews started to run off the field on a short field-goal attempt in the second quarter, but he slipped unnoticed near the sideline and was uncovered when holder Randall Cobb stood up and tossed the ball toward the end zone for an 11-yard TD.
Matthews hauled in a 27-yarder from Mike Hartline in the third.
Hartline was 21 of 39 for 242 yards, with two interceptions - one of them Jeremy Brown returned 52 yards for a score. Derrick Locke ran 23 times for 103 yards.
But Hartline and Locke walked off the field with their fourth consecutive loss to Florida, joining a long list of Kentucky players who have done the same.
"We just got to try and keep our confidence up," Hartline said. "We got the guys to do that."