Before Quincy Wilson presented us with the question about whether we’d ever seen a duck pull a truck and then guaranteed a Florida victory over Tennessee, I was convinced the Gators were going to win in Knoxville on Saturday. Now, I’m convinced that’s not going to happen, the streak is going to end at 11. Wilson has sealed Florida’s fate.

Like the other members of the media present for Wilson’s prediction Tuesday, I was a little bit stunned by it. It’s not often a college player guarantees a victory in a rivalry game as big as this one. Wilson’s comments also instantly triggered a memory of mine from almost 30 years ago when I worked for the Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel.

Way back in 1988, a football player made a bold prediction to me hat blew up in his face a few days later.

The player was Miami Dolphins’ wide receiver Mark Clayton. I interviewed him the Thursday before the Dolphins were going to play New England in Foxboro, Mass., and he’d just finished a good practice, had a beer in his hand and was obviously feeling quite chipper. I asked him about his on-going feud with Patriots’ cornerback Ronnie Lippett, and he went off the on the guy.

“I want to beat him bad. I want to beat him so bad that the Patriots think about cutting him,” Clayton said. “I’m going to use him like toilet paper. I hate him. He’s the one guy I really despise in this league. Everybody else is OK. Lippett — I just hate him.”

Lippett and the Patriots, of course, saw Clayton’s comments and became inflamed. During the game, the fired-up New England defensive players went after Clayton. They were in his grill throughout the game, pushing him, knocking him around and berating him. And he did not use Lippett like toilet paper as he’d predicted. Clayton was little or no factor in a 21-10 Miami loss.

Clayton’s toilet paper prediction is a little stronger than Wilson’s duck-pull-a-truck metaphor and prediction, but the end result is going to be the same. Tennessee is going to be all over Wilson and the Gators.

It’s not like the Vols need any extra motivation for beating the Gators, but Wilson has given it to them, given them an edge. And it’s not the only one I see in UT’s favor. I envision Florida’s questionable offensive line getting manhandled by the Tennessee front seven, and that will be the difference in the game.

It’s going to be a long, frustrating afternoon for QB Austin Appleby and the Florida offense.

And, so yes, I guess a duck actually can pull a truck.

Prediction: Tennessee 24, Florida 9

 

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