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Florida-Kentucky a little subdued

Pat Dooley
Gator Sports
Kentucky quarterback Terry Wilson led the upset win the last time the Wildcats played in Gainesville,

It's not a big one, certainly not the big one. It's not the game everyone is including on their pick sheets in Topeka and they won't spend much time talking about it on GameDay on Saturday morning.

Florida vs. Kentucky has always been a bigger deal in basketball than in football and this year, with the Wildcats at 3-5 and coming off a 63-3 loss to Alabama, it hasn't felt this small in a long time.

But it IS big because it IS being played and Florida has been one loss away from elimination from the College Football Playoff for six weeks now. It's big because it is the penultimate home game for the seniors and, who knows, it might be the last.

Still, it won't be a major story unless the huge underdog pulls the upset. But there are plenty of sidebars (oh yeah, I'm going to get all journalistic on you at the end of my time at The Sun).

There is Terry Wilson, the quarterback who did what so many before him could not do. He engineered Kentucky's win in The Swamp two years ago by breaking a 31-game losing streak to the Gators. Last year, he missed the game with a wrist injury. This year, he has struggled to hold on to his job.

He hasn't thrown for 200 yards since the first game of the season. Hasn't rushed for 100 since the second. But today, in the stadium where he had the game he'll always be remembered for, I'm sure there will be an adrenaline rush.

Then there is Kyle Pitts, making his return after the vicious hit in the Georgia game. Florida has had four touchdowns from the two tight ends who replaced him in two games. But everyone wants to see No. 84 and what he can do the rest of the way.

Of course, there is this Heisman Trophy shadow that creeps across every field Kyle Trask plays on these days. And there is a different shadow creeping into the Florida secondary, like a goblin that won't go away.

There is the hangover of another Thanksgiving spent away from their families for many players. There is the grind of the 10 SEC games and the fifth straight game with no break in sight.

On the Kentucky side, there is a team fighting through the virus and injuries and expected to show up without a lot of personnel while still recovering from the grief of losing assistant coach John Schlarman to cancer earlier this month.

There is the early wake-up call for both teams, although one would think Florida would be used to it by now. 

There is the Kentucky rushing attack which can wear you down against a Florida defense that has been up and down against the run. 

There is a Wildcat team that is second in the league in interceptions ... except the team that came in here leading the league in interceptions (Arkansas) left The Swamp with a big knot on its head. 

There is a home crowd for Florida that will do its best, but won't be the same. There will be fewer scores than usual flashing across the message boards because of so many games getting canceled again this week. 

The point is that there will be a lot of things that are interesting about this game for a lot of different reasons. It's just that none of them are compelling.

Unless, of course, the unthinkable happens.

That changes everything.

And we know who controls that. The team that Gator fans hope practiced like this is a big game instead of like it was Vanderbilt. The team that needs to stop playing the first quarter of games like the defenders are checking their phones between plays instead of getting lined up.

The team that had better understand that this IS a big game because it is on the schedule.

The team that is making us enjoy this season, but throws in plenty of angst to make it interesting.

It's up to Florida today.

Don't make it a big story.

Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at pat.dooley@gvillesun.com. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.