Kentucky Beats Another Bowden In Music City Bowl
by Mike Mitchell
December 31, 2007
For the second straight season, Kentucky beat a Bowden in the Music City Bowl. Last year, it was Tommy and his Clemson Tigers. This year, it was father Bobby and Florida State.
In a game that took nearly 4-and-half hours to complete, and was horribly officiated, Kentucky held off a depleted Florida State squad 35-28. The lack of depth didn't seem to have nearly the effect on the ballgame that pundits believed it would. Instead, blown calls by the Big East officiating crew had a far greater impact, and an unbalanced amount went against the Seminoles.
A phantom offensive pass interference call on Florida State's Greg Carr negated a touchdown in the first half. A pick-play that wasn't whistled resulted in a Kentucky touchdown, and the same penalty was incorrectly called against the 'Cats on their next possession. Among other plays missed was a running into the kicker penalty that would have kept a promising Florida State drive alive.
The Seminoles were playing without 36 players who were left behind due to injury or suspension. Most were being disciplined for their involvement in an academic cheating scandal. Several will continue to serve multiple-game suspensions at the start of next season.
In the face of all that adversity, Florida State nearly rallied from a 35-21 deficit in the final three minutes. The valiant effort fell short when a Hail Mary pass was batted down in the endzone on the final play of the game.
The Seminoles never led but were able to trade touchdowns with Kentucky throughout the first half. The 'Cats had a chance to go up 14-0 but running back Rafael Little fumbled short of the goal line after a 22-yard pass reception, and Tony Carter returned it 51 yards to set-up FSU's first score. Carter also had a 24-yard interception return for FSU's second touchdown.
After the teams entered the locker room at 14-apiece, Kentucky established its largest lead of the game with a pair of 80-yard scoring drives in the third quarter.
Florida State cut the gap to 28-21 with 8:02 left in the game, but the Wildcats answered with a 38-yard touchdown pass and run from Andre Woodson to Steve Johnson to go back up by 14. Kentucky had a chance to seal the victory when Drew Weatherford was intercepted two plays later, but the drive stalled and a 39-yard field goal was partially blocked.
With newfound life, the Seminoles needed only six plays to score what proved to be the game's final points. That drive culminated in a 7-yard Weatherford pass to Carr with 2:14 left.
An attempted onside kick was recovered by Kentucky, and an array of strange events unfolded afterward. The Wildcats fumbled on the next play, but recovered their miscue. Still, they were forced to go 3-and-out and attempted a pooch punt from the FSU 34-yard line. The kick carried too far and went into the endzone for a touchback for a net punt of 14 yards.
With 1:09 to go, Weatherford wasted precious time by scrambling for a two-yard gain on first down, then threw an interception on second down. However, the ball was fumbled on the return and Florida State had another chance land in its lap. The 'Noles were able to advance to the UK 44-yard line before the final desperation pass attempt came up empty.
Woodson threw four TD passes for Kentucky and finished with 40 scoring strikes for the season, breaking Tim Couch's school record of 37 set in 1998. Little had a season-high 152 yards rushing.
Florida State running back Antone Smith had a career-high 156 rushing yards.
Kentucky's last three bowl trips have been to the same game going back to 1999. This win gave them back-to-back bowl victories in consecutive seasons for the first time since the 1950-1951 seasons.
Florida State is 5-7 in its last twelve bowl games after going 13-0-1 from 1982-1995. This was Bowden's first bowl loss ever in the month of December (7-1-1).