It seems like just yesterday that Kentucky had not one, not two, but three of the most embarrassing losing streaks in college football.
Going into 2010, Kentucky had endured losing streaks to Florida, Tennessee, and Steve Spurrier that had all spanned at least 15 years. Going into that season, Kentucky had losing streaks to Tennessee and Florida that were already in the 20s, while Spurrier held a 17-game winning streak over Kentucky between stints at Florida and South Carolina.
And these weren’t just losses. These were some of the most gut-wrenching, frustrating defeats this program would suffer through over the last three decades.
In 1993, Kentucky led Florida 20-17 with eight seconds left. Gators quarterback Danny Wuerffel took the snap from Kentucky’s 28-yard line, walk-on wide receiver Chris Doering leaked behind Kentucky’s defense, and the two connected for the winning score.
In 2003 — a loss burned into my own retina — Kentucky led the Gators 21-3 in the fourth quarter. Then it all came apart, highlighted by Kentucky great Jared Lorenzen throwing a late pick to Johnny Lamar to set up the Gators’ winning score.
In 2007, Kentucky and Tennessee clashed for four overtimes before rge Volunteers escaped Lexington with a 52-50 win, a game that included the Vols blocking a game-winning field goal in overtime.
Last year, Kentucky led Florida 27-14 late in the fourth quarter before unraveling and allowing the Gators to escape with a 28-27 win. That included a holding call in the final seconds that pushed Kentucky out of field goal range.
But now, the streaks are dead, finally. All three of them are now history after Kentucky defeated the final streak of the triumvirate with a 27-16 win over Florida.
It began in the 2010 season. Led by Randall Cobb and Mike Hartline, the 2010 Wildcats stunned 10th-ranked South Carolina to end the Spurrier streak.
One year later, receiver-turned quarterback Matt Roark helped Kentucky end a 26-game losing streak to the Volunteers.
Those were two streaks that had hovered over the program for far too long, but while they were gone, the Florida streak remained.
It would do so for several more years while Kentucky slowly worked its way toward becoming a program that could topple the Gators, who are annually ranked in the top 25 and would prove very challenging to vanquish.
Mark Stoops learned that the hard way. Through his first five seasons in Lexington, Stoops suffered though three of the most painful losses in what turned into a 31-game losing streak to the Gators.
That included an overtime loss in Gainesville, as well as a blown two-score lead late in last season’s defeat in Lexington.
Those defeats left many wondering when, if ever the streak would ever end. It felt like Kentucky’s window to end the Florida streak was closing if they can’t get it done this time around.
With Dan Mullen now at the helm in Gainesville, it’s hard to not see the Gators getting back to national prominence sooner rather than later. He built Mississippi State into a national contender that went 8-1 against Kentucky. Florida has far more resources, not to mention a state that annually produces some of the nation’s top recruits.
Needless to say, Kentucky needed to strike while his program is still in a transition phase, especially with one of the best senior classes Kentucky has had in quite some time.
Between CJ Conrad, Josh Allen, Jordan Jones, Derrick Baity, Mike Edwards, Darius West and Dorian Baker, this is easily one of the most talented and deepest group of seniors this program has ever had.
There’s also Benny Snell, who probably is going to leave for the pros after 2018. All of this was why tonight needed to be the night Kentucky ended the streak, or else, it could go on for a lot longer,
That’s one of very many things that made this win so special. Now, Kentucky doesn’t have any ‘streaks’ hanging over its shoulder like a black cloud. Now, this program can reach a new level and gain a level of respectability and prominence it hasn’t had in decades.
When Stoops arrived in Lexington, he said he was going to change the game.