LEXINGTON, Ky. - 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.”
He 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. Florida’s medical staff attended to him on the bench and his parents came down from the stands to join him.
About a dozen Gators fans showed up at the University of Kentucky Medical Center after the game, standing outside in the rain and wishing the best for Tebow.
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 Gator.”’
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.
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 first possession.
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 Fighting Irish have a promising future based on coaching, current talent, recruiting, title path, and program power.
CFT: Johnny Manziel nearly transferred out of Texas A&M before the 2012 season after being suspended, according to reports, but he stayed after his successful appeal.
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