12:30 PM ET, October 25, 2008
BEN HILL GRIFFIN STADIUM, GAINESVILLE, FL
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Tired of sluggish starts in early games, the Florida Gators woke up at 6:30 a.m. Saturday and had music blaring a short time later.
• Florida beat Kentucky for the 22nd straight time.
• Gators quarterback Tim Tebow threw for two TDs and rushed for two more, tying Emmitt Smith's school record of 36 career rushing touchdowns.
• Florida improved to 23-2 at home under Urban Meyer.
-- ESPN research
They got dressed earlier, ate earlier and started their pregame routine earlier.
The changes worked to perfection as the 10th-ranked Gators put away Kentucky earlier than any other opponent else this season.
Tim Tebow threw two touchdown passes, ran for two scores and Florida used two blocked punts to jump-start a 63-5 rout of the injury-riddled Wildcats.
"We knew it was over right from the beginning of the game," said cornerback Joe Haden, who blocked a third kick, a field goal attempt in second quarter. "It started in the locker room. We had LSU intensity in the locker room. We knew if we had that intensity, it was going to be a blowout."
The Gators had no problems coming off a bye and certainly didn't have a letdown following a 51-21 drubbing of defending national champion LSU two weeks ago.
Now, they can focus on the game they've been looking forward to for a year: Georgia, a hated rival that stomped its way to a victory last season that essentially knocked Florida out of the Southeastern Conference race.
The Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) look every bit ready for the rematch.
But they wouldn't -- couldn't, really -- talk about it. It was clear coach Urban Meyer issued his players a gag order concerning the Bulldogs.
"I don't want to get in trouble," linebacker Brandon Spikes said.
Haden jokingly couldn't recall who was next on the schedule.
"Somebody in the SEC," he said. "We know it's a conference game."
It's the game Florida players pretty much circled when the schedule came out. Still, they were concerned about Kentucky, especially because of the early kickoff. The Gators sputtered in early starts against Hawaii, Mississippi and Arkansas -- scoring a combined seven points in the first quarters of those games.
They had no problems against the Wildcats, though.
The Gators blocked punts on Kentucky's first two possessions and turned them into short touchdown runs, and led 28-0 before the Wildcats (5-3, 1-3) even got a first down.
"Our kicking game was a disaster," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "It's hard to get back on track."
It got worse, too. Percy Harvin had a 16-yard scoring run that made it 21-0, then added a 33-yard TD reception on a perfect pass from Tebow.
Tebow finished 11-of-15 passing for 180 yards, ran nine times for 48 yards and spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench.
Florida led 42-3 at halftime and scored on the first play of the third quarter. Ahmad Black intercepted a pass from Mike Hartline and returned it 40 yards for a score.
"They beat us in every aspect of the game," said Hartline, who was 7-of-16 for 33 yards. "You should have to question how you can move on from this or how can we get better or what we need to do differently."
The Wildcats had an excuse for their problems.
They were without leading receiver Dicky Lyons Jr. (knee) and starting running back Derrick Locke (knee). Both are out for the season. They also played without offensive tackle Justin Jeffries (knee) and defensive tackle Myron Pryor (ankle). Five other defensive players, including all three starting linebackers, were slowed by injuries.
The Cats hadn't allowed more than 24 points in any game this season. The Gators scored more than that in the first quarter. Kentucky had allowed just two rushing touchdowns all year. Florida scored twice on the ground in its first eight plays.
The Wildcats looked like they would get on the scoreboard early in the second after Randall Cobb took over at quarterback, but Haden blocked Lones Seiber's 31-yard field goal attempt.
It was the 22nd blocked kick for the Gators in Meyer's four seasons. Tebow hooked up with Jeff Demps three plays later on a crossing route, and the speedy running back took it 61 yards for a touchdown and a 35-0 lead.
"He caught the ball, and I was starting to look for the extra-point team," Meyer said. "He's a fast dude now."
Demps finished with 117 total yards.
Tebow's second TD run came late in the first half. It was the 36th rushing touchdown of his career, tying the school record set by Emmitt Smith in 1989.
"It definitely means something," Tebow said. "It won't really set in now because I'm not going to think about. But later on down the road, you'll look back and you're with guys like Emmitt Smith and Fred Taylor and all the great running backs that have been here. To see yourself on a list with those guys is pretty cool."
Beating Georgia would be be even better.
"We're going into that game on all cylinders," Harvin said. "We're looking to get to Atlanta and Georgia's in the way. We remember the loss last year and we're going to prepare for them real good."
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Tim Tebow and the Gators sped to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter.
Gameball goes to... Tebow, who passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more.
Stat of the game... 36. Tebow tied Emmitt Smith for Florida's all-time rushing TD mark.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-17||4-8|
|4th Down Conversions||1-2||2-3|
|TD||11:01||Tim Tebow 3 Yd Run (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||0||7|
|TD||09:22||Brandon James 1 Yd Run (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||0||14|
|TD||06:44||Percy Harvin 16 Yd Run (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||0||21|
|TD||03:15||Percy Harvin 33 Yd Pass From Tim Tebow (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||0||28|
|TD||11:26||Jeffrey Demps 61 Yd Pass From Tim Tebow (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||0||35|
|FG||05:03||Lones Seiber 27 Yd||3||35|
|TD||00:26||Tim Tebow 3 Yd Run (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||3||42|
|TD||14:51||Ahmad Black 40 Yd Interception Return (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||3||49|
|TD||02:59||Kestahn Moore 1 Yd Run (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||3||56|
|TD||11:45||David Nelson 38 Yd Pass From John Brantley (Jonathan Phillips Kick)||3||63|
|SF||04:07||Ball Through End Zone||5||63|