Urban Meyer was worried this might be one of those trap games Florida has proved it can fall prey to.
The No. 5 Gators were coming off a bye week and preparing to face an improving Kentucky team with the SEC's best scoring defense. It was homecoming, a 12:30 p.m. kickoff, seniors were honored the night before, and Meyer was concerned about distractions and whether the Gators could carry over the momentum from a big win over LSU - two weeks ago.
By the time the first quarter ended, all of those concerns seemed silly. Florida capitalized on three blocked kicks that led to 21 first-half points on its way to a 63-5 victory over Kentucky in front of 90,589 at Florida Field.
It was the 22nd consecutive victory over Kentucky for Florida and the most points it has scored in an SEC game under Meyer. It also was the most points scored against Kentucky this season, 39 more than it allowed against South Carolina on Oct. 11.
"I didn't think we would be beaten this badly," Wildcats coach Rich Brooks said. "I think we're a better team than that."
The Gators (6-1, 4-1) clicked on special teams, offense and defense, playing precisely the kind of game they needed heading into this week's SEC East showdown with Georgia in Jacksonville. The Gators have scored 106 points in their past two games.
"I would say so," said junior Percy Harvin, who had a 16-yard rushing touchdown and 33-yard touchdown catch from Tim Tebow, on the team's strong momentum heading into this week. "Just the last two weeks, our team (has played well).
"Defense has been playing great all year... special teams ... but our offense has been slow all year. These last two weeks, we seemed to put it together real good. So we're going into that (Georgia) game on all cylinders."
Florida scored 42 first-half points aided by touchdowns scored off of two blocked punts and a blocked field goal (by freshman defensive end William Green, freshman running back Jeff Demps and sophomore cornerback Joe Haden).
The Gators amassed 446 offensive yards, including 214 on the ground. Tebow was 11-of-15 for 180 yards and was responsible for four touchdowns. Florida had eight players run the ball and nine players catch it.
The Gators held Kentucky (5-3, 1-3) to 268 yards and just one field goal. Kentucky picked up a safety on a botched punt late in the game. Meyer said he can sense this is a different team than the one that lost to unranked Ole Miss nearly a month ago.
"This team has grown up a little bit," Meyer said. "I love dealing with professionals. I love dealing with grown men. I'm getting kind of tired of dealing with children. And you're starting to see a little maturity level to them; and the preparation and attention to detail. ... There was no (messing) around in practice last week getting ready to go play.
"But the more I'm around this team, the more I can feel a little more confident they are maturing to the point where they can handle their business."
Now it's on to Jacksonville to face Georgia, a game that has major implications in the SEC East and potentially could be a little payback for last season's loss.
But if the Gators have any thoughts of revenge, you couldn't tell it Saturday. Player after player in the postgame interviews refused to comment on last season or offer any thoughts about this season's Georgia game.
"No comment" seemed to be the mantra.
Asked if he had any hard feelings about last season's game and whether he's excited about the upcoming game, Tebow said: "No comment. And yes, I'm excited."
Antonya English can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
FLORIDA 63, Kentucky 5
.The Gators were lacking in only one area: insight into the next game, against Georgia (Urban Meyer-issued gag order). UF blocked two punts and a field goal in taking a 42-3 halftime lead. As for that little tussle coming up in Jacksonville? Joe Haden's only knowledge of the opponent: "Somebody in the SEC.''