Mark Stoops smirked when the question was asked. He knew it was coming. It wouldn’t be SEC Media Days without it.
Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida in 31 years. Last season, the Wildcats dropped a heartbreaker 28-27 at home. So, the reporter inquired, how important is it to get over the hump with Florida?
“I always look forward to that annual question,” Stoops chided. “I’m going to get it a thousand times between now and that game.”
It’s one of the hurdles — maybe more mentally than practically — standing in the way of Kentucky and contention in the SEC East. Kentucky is the only team in the SEC to match or improve upon its win total each year for the past six seasons.
There is tepid optimism in Lexington, in an SEC East largely devoid of contenders behind Georgia, that Kentucky could assert itself. But to take that step it must first clear the metaphorical one.
“You can't hide from the elephant in the room,” Stoops added on the Florida game, scheduled for Week 2. “It's been a long time. We need to beat Florida, but we need to beat a lot of teams on our schedule.”
For linebacker Josh Allen, the emphasis is on the latter part of that statement, not the former. Florida matters. Allen has bigger dreams.
“We don’t want to think about it as particular teams,” Allen said. “We just want to think about it as, ‘we have to get a win to get to where we want to be,’ because I want to play across the street. I want to play in the Mercedes (Benz Stadium).”
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