- I got nothing for you. I don’t. This is supposed to be about Florida and I can’t even write about Florida in the positive or the negative because Kentucky’s here, and if Kentucky football is here it will control what happens, and not in the good way for Kentucky football. There are curses and they are real and you have one of them, Kentucky, and a battalion of warlocks working overtime for months on end wouldn’t be able to scrub it off your program.
- That’s an irrational explanation. It is the one I have left. This Florida team is not good. They are not consistently good at football things, and when they land on one streak of doing one thing well, it usually means they have abandoned another. When they start running well, the passing game falls off. They do not pass well, but if they do I’ll bet even money they stop running well. Again, that’s a TBD, because it hasn’t happened yet, and at one point Luke Del Rio took meaningful snaps at quarterback during the game Saturday. Three years into juggling QBs and waiting for one, just one quarterback, Florida still has two, or three, or four if you count Kadarius Toney in the Wildcat. I’ll count him, because he rules, and because for all any of us know he could be the starter in three weeks.
- It’s so bad that when Kentucky left a wide receiver completely uncovered not once, but twice, I was just praying the quarterback would get them the ball. That’s where we’re at: Hoping that a wide receiver and a quarterback can successfully complete one cycle of a game of catch.
- They caught both of them for touchdowns because this is the Kentucky game, a game I have now watched Florida win outright by huge margins, and also steal on bad late calls, luck, and hamfisted incompetence by Kentucky. There are degrees to how this happens, is what I’m saying. What I’m also saying is this: There is a new word or series of words that needs to be invented to cover that this was, because it is a new thing more appalling and horrible than what preceded it. What preceded it was the previous three decades of Kentucky losing to Florida. This makes it some kind of superhell nested in a series of russian superhell dolls, the smallest and most superhellish of all the superhell dolls in the collection.
- I don’t even know if it’s funny. It didn’t feel funny, the way watching your opponent lose is supposed to be funny. The first time—when Kentucky left Tyrie Cleveland completely uncovered—-that might have been funny if it hadn’t been so stunning, and if the magnitude of the mistake hadn’t been made all too clear by how long it took for anyone to notice or do anything about it. Cleveland got the ball and suddenly it looked like that video where the man is running across the park yelling FENTONNNNNNN over and over again while his dog chases a herd of deer. It was absurd comedy, the kind with a dark streak in it, the kind so stupidly obvious it becomes smart, somehow.
- The second time, though? The second time was just cruelty. Kentucky came on out of a timeout with twelve men on the field, then had ten, and then a touchdown handed over for free. Replay made it so, so much worse. Everyone on Kentucky’s sideline signalling for timeouts that never came, Mark Stoops looking like every bit of color had been drained from his face, and that sick, silent lurch in the stadium where you can hear through the television the distinctive sound of collective nausea.
- That came after Kentucky did precisely what it needed to do to win this game. They looked faster and better-coached than Florida for 99.99999% of the game. The Wildcats had one more first down, ran the ball well enough, and got a really good game out of their quarterback, Stephen Johnson, who threw three TDs and probably would have gotten Kentucky into position for a winning field goal.
- He didn’t because of an iffy-at-best holding penalty. That’s what makes this so much worse than any of these I’ve ever seen. After two insane instances of random incompetence in all that otherwise competent football, Kentucky had their last and best shot to beat Florida yanked away by a dodgy call. It might have felt better to just lose the game on your own terms, Kentucky, and that was about to happen, but fate apparently wants you to feel every flavor of this pain—including being screwed by an official late in a bitter contest that might just throw someone off the sport altogether.
- Not that it mattered: If the kick had happened, and Kentucky tried a field goal, I have no doubt something else would have prevented the Wildcats from winning. A fat, drunk vulture would have crossed the path of the ball on its way through the uprights, and a THUNK and rain of falling black feathers would have outlined the exact spot where Kentucky’s hopes died. A random sinkhole would have opened up beneath the kicker, or the holder would have passed out cold and fallen on the ball just as the kicker arrived to boot the victory home. If he just flat-out missed, it would not be a laugher, but directly off the upright with the most humiliating noise possible.
- I don’t know what Kentucky has to do to win this game. I don’t. This is usually about Florida, but I feel like Florida had so little to do with this game’s outcome. I don’t even know if Kentucky has a lot to do with this game’s outcome anymore. There’s a demon named Ul-Ran-Tha’Gib, and once he was worshipped by the people of the high steppe. In his decline—as those who believed in him turned away to other gods—he settled on someone to blame: The Kentucky football program, chosen when a missionary’s hat and shirt gave Ul-Ran-Tha’Gib someone to blame for his shrinking constituency. All of Ul-Ran-Tha’Gib’s energies are spent cursing Kentucky football, because Ul-Ran-Tha’Gib sticks to his curses, and also because he is immortal, has very little else to do, and got a DUI or two and can’t leave the sate of Kentucky until he gets his license renewed. Ul-Ran-Tha’Gib is never, ever getting his license renewed. Paperwork just ain’t his bag. So you’re stuck with each other.
- That’s an insane explanation but I don’t have another one. Kentucky’s cursed, and Florida still isn’t very good, and fourteen points, Kentucky. You handed us fourteen points and we will take them but goddamn. Just: goddamn.
- We ran the ball for 186 yards? That was pretty good, but taking anything away from this game that doesn’t involve burning a bunch of sage and backing away slowly while muttering protective words of magick seems risky at best.
I DON’T EVEN