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Early Kentucky Football Preview: Florida

This’ll be one of the biggest games of the Stoops Era.

Florida v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Greetings, BBN!

As we wait for the start of the 2022 Kentucky Wildcats football season, now’s a great time to look at the upcoming schedule and scout the opponents. This week we look at Week 2 and their monster showdown in Gainesville with none other than the FLORIDA GATORS. Let’s dive into this matchup:

Florida Gators

  • When: September 10th, 7:00 ESPN
  • Where: The Swamp
  • All-Time Series: Irrelevant (Okay, Florida leads 53-19)

In ye olden days of the 30s, 40s, 50s and such, UK and Florida did not play every season, but traded L’s and W’s every couple of years or so. It was in 1967 that the series became annual and alternated between Lexington and Gainesville each season. Florida won each year from 1967 to 1973. UK won four times in the 70s after that, but lost throughout the 80s except for one home victory in ‘86.

Then came a dark period. Kentucky lost in ‘87, ‘88, and ‘89. Then they lost all ten games in the ‘90s. Then throughout the 2000s. A curse had come upon them, a drought so bad it got national attention as “The Streak”. There wasn’t an active drought longer, and as Coach Mark Stoops got the ‘Cats on the rise again they came agonizingly close to snapping The Streak in 2015 and 2017 but fell just short each time.

The Streak—just to win the game one time and snap The Streak. It would feel like an SEC championship.

Then, of course, we know what happened. The best UK team since before The Streak began marched into The Swamp, played a fantastic ballgame, and beat a top-25 Gator squad to finally put an end to the nonsense. The hype train was, obviously, rolling pretty fast the next season as the ‘Cats and Gators faced off in Lexington, but while Kentucky played very well it wasn’t quite enough. In 2020, they had no chance on the road, banged-up and sick playing near the end of a brutal all-SEC schedule.

But think about this year’s game for a second—the ‘Cats beat Florida last season in one of the most thrilling wins Kroger Field has ever seen, proving that the 2018 win wasn’t a fluke and preventing The Streak from just starting up again. After that loss, the Gators cratered, going from a top-10 New Year’s Six team to a 6-7 mess that lost the Gasparilla Bowl! Coach Dan Mullen is out, Louisiana’s Billy Napier is in, and who knows what the roster’s going to be like this fall? So...could this mean that Florida will still be bad when UK plays them in Week 2???

That’s the big question—obviously Florida will be determined not to drop two in a row in the series they’ve owned for five decades, but UK fans will be salivating at the opportunity to take their star-studded, dark-horse Heisman candidate-led dream team into the lair of their old enemy and kick them while they’re down to get an extremely rare victory. It’ll be a big one, and it’ll be at prime-time on ESPN! It’s still May and I’m already excited!

Prediction: The guards are changing in the SEC. Kentucky is going to beat Florida on their own field and win two in a row in the series for the first time since ‘76-’77—their ‘21 and ‘22 teams are as talented and hungry as those ‘70s teams and are going to achieve the same big-time victories.

‘Cats win 28-24.