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35 Years Ago: The Anatomy of the UK upset over Florida in Lexington

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It’s been 35 years since the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Florida Gators in Lexington. Let’s revisit the original upset.

Lexington Herald-Leader

Where were you in 1986?

I was a thin willow tree, all of 13 years old, playing football, basketball, and baseball in the yards around my home in Teetersville, which is found in Harlan County, Kentucky (Bloody Harlan to most of you guys.)

That was the last time the Kentucky Wildcats beat the Florida Gators in Lexington, KY.

35 years ago.

November 15th, 1986.

On that crisp fall afternoon, the Cats used a formula of efficient offense, a new blitz series no one had seen, and a little fortune to pull off the upset 10-3.

Some superlatives on the day for the Cats:

  • The UK offense was led by quarterback Bill Ransdell, who set a school record for passing accuracy by completing 20/23 passes.
  • Kentucky held the Florida offense 71 yards below its average on the season and was the only team all season to keep the Gators out of the end zone for an entire game.
  • Then-linebacker coach Terry Strock came up with a blitz package for the UK defense that sent defenders from all over the field, not allowing the Florida offense to get rolling for nearly the entire game.
  • Kentucky won the turnover margin 2-0 over the Gators...

The Cats made some huge plays late on both sides of the ball to pull off a win no one expected to happen. A little good fortune if you will. Consider the following:

  • Defensive Back Tony Mayes stripped Gators’ receiver Ricky Nattiel of a possible go-ahead touchdown late in the fourth quarter and recovered the fumble to ice the game.
  • Running back Marc Logan took a 4th-and-1 sweep from the Florida 1 to score the only touchdown of the day.
  • The lone big-play from Florida was a 65-yard strike down the sidelines that UK defensive backs Mayes and Ron Robinson ran down at the UK 5-yard line to save a probable touchdown.

Can the Cats conjure up their own blend of offense, defense, and good fortune and end the longest losing streak in the nation currently? UK coach Mark Stoops has been ending some long streaks for Kentucky lately, you know.

It most certainly can be done.

It happened 35 years ago in Lexington.

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