LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) - With one scary hit on Tim Tebow, the fate
of No. 1 Florida - and really, the entire complexion of the college
football season - could have changed.
The Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was knocked out of
Florida's 41-7 victory against Kentucky after a hard shot to the
head in the third quarter, and taken by ambulance to a hospital.
"I don't know, I think it's a concussion," Florida coach Urban
Meyer said. "I think he'll be all right.
"He took a pretty good shot."
Tebow was scheduled to stay overnight in the hospital, Florida
spokesman Steve McClain said.
The Gators were leading 31-7 and driving deep in Kentucky
territory when Tebow was sacked by Kentucky defensive end Taylor
Wyndham on a vicious but clean hit. As he fell back with Wyndham on
top of him, Tebow's head struck teammate Marcus Gilbert's leg,
violently bending his neck forward.
Tebow, a tank of a quarterback at 245 pounds, lay motionless for
several minutes while Commonwealth Stadium fell silent. He sat up
with some help then slowly made his way off the field to a loud
ovation. He was eventually carted off the field with
concussion-like symptoms, vomiting several times.
Florida is off next week, then plays at LSU on Oct. 10. It's
probably the toughest game on Florida's regular-season schedule and
would be even tougher without Tebow.
A third national title in four seasons for Florida, a second
Heisman for Tebow, all that becomes iffy if his injury causes him
to miss games. Oddly, Saturday started with questions about Tebow's
availability because of a respiratory illness.
Meyer said Tebow had just one question after the hit.
"He asked me 'Did I hold onto the ball?"' Meyer said. "I told
him he did and he winked at me and said 'It's great to be a
Still, the image of their leader laying helpless proved
unsettling for the defending national champions.
"He was a little fuzzy coming off the field," said backup
quarterback John Brantley. "He was looking around. I guess making
sure he was in Kentucky."'
The win extended Florida's winning streak to 14 games, tops in
the nation as the Gators (4-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference)
continued their mastery over the Wildcats (2-1, 0-1). Florida has
won 23 straight in the series, the second longest active winning
streak by one team over another in the country.
Yet the outcome became a mere footnote after Tebow went down.
And now two Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks have been
knocked out of games in the first month of the season, with Tebow
joining Oklahoma's Sam Bradford, who injured his shoulder in Week 1
and hasn't played since.
The injury put a stop to another vintage performance by Tebow,
whose status appeared to be in doubt in the hours before the game.
Tebow was one of several Gators who took a separate plane north
because of respiratory and congestion issues, leading to
speculation the Heisman Trophy winner wouldn't play.
If Tebow wasn't feeling well, it didn't show. He walked off the
field following pregame warmups trading head slaps with teammate
Brandon Spikes and nearly sprinted into the huddle on Florida's
He rumbled for 29 yards on the third play of the game, breaking
a tackle at the line of scrimmage and bolting through the secondary
before getting shoved out of bounds.
The drive ended in a field goal, but he was simply getting
started. Tebow put the Gators up 10-0 on a 3-yard touchdown run,
silencing a crowd hoping Florida could be had if
The Wildcats couldn't get out of their own way. An illegal
motion penalty on a punt forced them to re-kick, and the Gators
took advantage when Chris Rainey blocked it and then fell on the
ball in the end zone to make it 17-0 Florida.
The Gators had it back five plays later and Tebow led them on a
58-yard drive that included a pair of vintage Tebow runs. First he
shook Kentucky cornerback Cartier Rice with some nifty footwork
then spun forward for an extra yard to get the ball to the Kentucky
On the next play Tebow turned to hand the ball off to running
back Jeff Demps. One problem: Demps had run the other way. No
biggie. Tebow tucked the ball, stepped through a tackle and walked
into the end zone for his 48th career rushing touchdown, leaving
him one shy of Herschel Walker's SEC record.
He later added a 44-yard touchdown pass to Aaron Hernandez on
the last play of the first quarter, ending a 31-point deluge that
left the Wildcats stunned.
"We were doing what we wanted to do," said Florida wide
receiver David Nelson. "We did just about anything."
Kentucky eventually found its composure, but by then it was too
"We got our fannies kicked all over the field in every phase,"
said Kentucky coach Rich Brooks. "I didn't have my team ready to
The Gators had struggled in last week's win over Tennessee,
leading to whispers that Tennessee defensive coordinator Monte
Kiffin had found the blueprint on stopping Florida's high-powered
Those problems seemed long gone during a nearly flawless first
half, and the Gators were going for more when Tebow went down.
Brantley came on in relief of Tebow and led Florida to a late
touchdown, but by then the focus of the game had turned from the
action on the field to Tebow's health.
Tebow finished with 123 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He
added another 103 yards and a score through the air, numbers that
seemed unimportant the second he hit the turf.
"He ran for 130 yards and that wasn't the plan," Meyer said.
"That's one tough cat out there."
No. 1 FLORIDA 41, KENTUCKY 7
Florida 31 0 3 7-41
Kentucky 0 7 0 0- 7
Fla-FG Sturgis 22, 11:13.
Fla-Tebow 3 run (Sturgis kick), 7:11.
Fla-Rainey 23 blocked punt return (Sturgis kick), 6:04.
Fla-Tebow 2 run (Sturgis kick), 2:15.
Fla-Hernandez 44 pass from Tebow (Sturgis kick), :00.
Ky-Bogue 2 pass from Hartline (Seiber kick), 2:44.
Fla-FG Sturgis 32, 3:45.
Fla-Cooper 8 pass from Brantley (Sturgis kick), 6:39.
First downs 25 11
Rushes-yards 52-362 32-86
Passing 133 93
Comp-Att-Int 9-16-0 14-31-2
Return Yards 58 0
Punts-Avg. 4-33.8 9-35.8
Fumbles-Lost 1-1 0-0
Penalties-Yards 6-55 9-69
Time of Possession 32:03 27:57
RUSHING-Florida, Tebow 16-123, Demps 12-97, Moody 5-57,
Gillislee 6-39, Rainey 9-36, James 1-7, Brantley 2-3, Team 1-0.
Kentucky, Locke 13-36, Allen 3-28, A.Smith 7-12, C.Williams 1-7,
Conner 2-7, R.Cobb 1-3, Fidler 2-(minus 1), Hartline 3-(minus 6).
PASSING-Florida, Tebow 5-10-0-103, Brantley 4-6-0-30. Kentucky,
Hartline 13-28-2-85, Fidler 1-2-0-8, R.Cobb 0-1-0-0.
RECEIVING-Florida, Hernandez 3-54, Cooper 2-30, Nelson 2-27,
Moody 1-18, Demps 1-4. Kentucky, R.Cobb 5-24, Matthews 3-28, Roark 1-15,
Conner 1-9, Melillo 1-8, Allen 1-7, Bogue 1-2, A.Smith 1-0.