Just recently, I passed a unique milestone in my time on this planet. While I was born and raised in the great Commonwealth of Kentucky, I have now lived in Florida longer than my home state. This means a couple of things. One is that I am getting older. Secondly is that football season is an annual hell and reminder of this embarrassingly horrendous streak.
It's gotten to the point where I stop saying "This is the year that we break the streak." All that gets me is an amused look from the cold, dead reptilian eyes of my Gator friends and a patronizing pat on the head as if I were a toddler who just proudly announced that he went number two on the potty as if it were a parlor trick.
In short, football life sucks here, and until this streak ends, it will not get better for me or any of the other Wildcats fans trapped in a sea of orange, strip malls, and mosquitoes that can now kill you. Rest assured; the streak will end. Eventually. And we will get our peace. Until that happens, here are five of my recurring nightmares.
5) Trey Burton goes off (2010)
When you list the names of the great Florida Gator players over the years, Trey Burton's name is not likely to pop up, This is not a personal insult to Burton because he had a nice four-year career as a Gator and he is poised to finally start making some noise in the NFL as a tight end with the Eagles. He is not getting a statue outside of the Swamp, however.
For one afternoon, Burton lived up to his hype as the second coming of Tim Tebow and absolutely destroyed the Kentucky Wildcats with SIX touchdowns. For those keeping track, this one game accounted for 30% of Burton's total touchdowns in his four-year career. In addition, this was also a career game for much maligned Gator QB John Brantley as Florida rolled the Wildcats 48-14.
4) The "What Could Have Been" Game (2007)
To be honest, this was the best and most entertaining Florida/Kentucky game ever. Yet, I keep going back to this game and thinking about what could have been if Kentucky could have snapped the streak.
The Wildcats were fresh off an upset of the number one LSU Tigers and had un unprecedented poll ranking of #8. The defending national champion Gators were ranked #14 but were reeling with back to back losses to Auburn and LSU. The game was at home, and this was another perfect opportunity to snap the streak.
The game was a classic duel between Tim Tebow and Andre Woodson, who had 415 yards passing. The Cats fell behind early and were down 21-10 at the half and played catch-up the whole second half. A pair of Dicky Lyons' TD receptions (including a thrilling 50-yard dash) kept the Cats in striking distance. The second Lyons touchdown closed the gap to seven with about 4:00 left but Kentucky could not stop Tebow and company as they extended the streak to 21 with a 45-37 win
This remains one of the most frustrating losses for me because this was not a great Florida team as they finished 9-4. And this was arguably Kentucky's best team in the whole streak period. At this point, I started to seriously doubt if the streak would ever end.
3) The Hanging Play Clock (2014)
If you live in Florida enough, you start to realize the view the rest of the nation has of the Sunshine State and the fact that a lot of things seem ... well, shady. The 2000 Presidential Election brought us the hanging chads. The 2014 Florida/Kentucky game gave us the hanging play clock.
Granted, some Kentucky fans will take offense that this was not the number one item on my list, and I get your point. Bottom line is that the hanging play clock play was not the deciding factor in this game. It would have made a 4th and 7 play a much more difficult 4th and 12 play for the Gators to convert and this is significant. However, it did not cost UK the game.
Kentucky had several chances to put this game away in regulation and the fact that they did not is even more frustrating.
2) Who are these guys? (1993)
Back in 1993, the streak was still in single digit numbers and for the most part, Danny Wuerffel and Chris Doering were hardly household names. Wuerffel was a freshman quarterback in just his second game relieving Terry Dean. Doering was a walk-on wide receiver.
And then this happened, and the legends of Wuerffel and Doering were born.
Still so painful to watch.
1) The Hefty Lefty Throws a Pick (2003)
Some things are just too painful to revisit. This is one of them. After three quarters, Kentucky led the #25 Florida Gators 21-3 at Commonwealth Stadium in Chris Leak's first start. The Wildcats had dominated, but even an 18 point lead was not enough to relax the faint hearts of Kentucky fans.
After an interception of Chris Leak, Kentucky was still in great shape up 21-9 with 9:49 left. The Kentucky offense went conservative but had whittled three minutes off the clock after a sack of Jared Lorenzen forced a punt. Florida quickly moved the ball down, and Chris Leak found Carlos Perez for a touchdown pass on a fourth-and-3 play with 4:46 remaining.
Attempting to run out the clock, Jared Lorenzen was pressured and was on the verge of being sacked by Channing Crowder. Lorenzen was spun around and instead of taking the sack, Lorenzen heaved the ball right into the arms of Johnny Lamar who took the interception to the Kentucky one yard line. The rest was history, and a 17-year losing streak was in the books.
There you have it. My list of moments in the Florida streak that I can still not get over. Which one of these was the worst for you? Or do you have another moment? Let me know in the comments.