U.K. Joins Florida With Title Double-Dip
By Paul Myerberg // Apr 3, 2012
Florida remains the only university to win a national title in football and basketball during the same calendar year. That was in 2006, when the Gators — football — were led by the quarterback duo of Chris Leak and Tim Tebow, while the other Gators — basketball — were led by the frontcourt pairing of Al Horford and Joakim Noah. Tennessee might deserve a spot on this short list, though with an asterisk: the Volunteers won the first B.C.S. championship in 1998, nine months after the women’s team took home the national title. And Nebraska’s feat deserves another substantial asterisk:
In 1995, the Cornhuskers lambasted all comers in football and won a national championship in women’s volleyball. Congratulations? No, really: congratulations. No question mark. That football team alone is deserving of our undivided respect.
This is a roundabout way of getting to a conversation starter — a conversation starter to a conversation starter. Last night, Kentucky took care of business against Kansas, 67-59, to win its first national championship since 1998 and its ninth overall.
To match Florida’s feat — making this another SEC-themed national title party — the Wildcats would need to shock the college football world with a 2012 national championship. This would entail victories over Louisville and Western Kentucky in September, let alone a perfect run through SEC play.
No chance, right? Well, never say never — but the chance of this happening, Kentucky going 14-0, is as close to a never-going-to-happen event as we can expect from the F.B.S. in 2012. Kentucky, which had one of the nation’s worst offenses last fall, running through the SEC unscathed?
Fat chance. But at least Kentucky has a better chance of winning the national title as Kansas, right? There’s the question: When it comes to 2012, is Kentucky a more realistic national title contender than Kansas? If the Jayhawks had won last night, is it possible that Charlie Weis could have done the impossible in his first season? No jokes about schematic advantages, please.
It’s always possible. The Jayhawks could have been the feel-good story in all of college football, upsetting more — far, far more — heavily favored conference rivals to earn the Big 12 title. The SEC would suffer a slew of self-inflicted scars, with the trio of Arkansas, Alabama and L.S.U. each handing the other one loss apiece. With no undefeated SEC teams to choose from, the B.C.S. awards a national title game berth to the perfect Jayhawks.
That would be something. But after last night, it’s on Kentucky football to match the basketball program’s feat. Do you believe in miracles? What would need to happen for the Wildcats to win the 2012 national championship — in football? Let’s imagine a dream scenario:
Sept. 1, at Louisville The Cardinals turn the ball over three times, allowing Kentucky to sneak out of Papa John’s Stadium with a 17-13 win.
Sept. 8, Kent State The Golden Flashes are improved, but the Wildcats have little trouble in a 31-10 victory.
Sept. 15, Western Kentucky The Wildcats prove to their in-state upstarts that yes, they are in fact an SEC team. Kentucky moves to 3-0.
Sept. 22, at Florida The first major upset: Kentucky beats Florida, 13-9, for its first win over the Gators since 1986 and its first win in Gainesville since 1977.
Sept. 29, South Carolina The plan is to focus on Marcus Lattimore, forcing Connor Shaw to win the game with his arm. Unlike last fall, when Shaw threw for 311 yards and 4 scores in a 54-3 win, the Wildcats hold the Gamecocks’ quarterback in check. U.K. 21, U.S.C. 17 — 5-0.
Oct. 6, Mississippi State Any chance that Kentucky’s looking ahead to Arkansas? No chance. The Wildcats explode offensively, scoring a season-high 34 points in an easy victory.
Oct. 13, at Arkansas The dream continues: Arkansas moves the ball, but turnovers in the red zone spoil the Razorbacks’ chance at the win. Kentucky scores just enough — let’s say 28 points — to move to 7-0, 4-0 in the SEC.
Oct. 20, Georgia Another historic upset. Kentucky is 12-51-2 in its series against Georgia, but knocks off the Bulldogs behind a last-second touchdown pass to reserve tight end Ronnie Shields.
Oct. 27, at Missouri; Nov. 3, Vanderbilt; Nov. 17, Samford; Nov. 24, at Tennessee There’s no stopping Kentucky now. Missouri puts up a nice fight, but Joker Phillips’ team can’t be stopped. Vanderbilt returns to bowl play, but can’t knock off the undefeated Wildcats. Samford’s a breeze. Beating Tennessee is now old hat for Kentucky.
Dec. 1, vs. Alabama Kentucky’s last test is its fiercest yet: Alabama in the SEC title game. Alabama misses 11 field goals; Kentucky escapes with a 6-3 win.
Jan. 7, vs. Oregon The Ducks’ gain 706 yards of total offense but turns the ball over nine times. Kentucky wins, 13-10, to claim the 2012 national championship. Why not? Stranger things have happened. Actually, this would be the strangest season in college football history.
Tags: Alabama, Charlie Weis, Florida, Joker Phillips, Kansas, Kentucky, Nebraska, Oregon, SEC, Tennessee
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