Good afternoon, BBN! Tonight comes one of the most anticipated UK games of the season—the annual Kentucky vs. Florida showdown.
Every year, this is one of the biggest games on the schedule because of who Kentucky’s become now under Stoops—an evenly matched (or possibly better) rival. The rewards for the victor of this game are huge every season: the two times the ‘Cats have won not only did they snap long streaks but also challenged Georgia for the SEC East, and Gator wins in ‘19 and ‘20 allowed them to do the same.
They’ve played nine times since Stoops took over, and almost all of them have been wild and memorable—some for Gator fans and some for BBN. Let’s take a look:
2013: Florida 24, Kentucky 7
The ‘Cats fought hard...for one quarter. Then they continued their 0-8 march through the SEC in Stoops’s first season.
2014: Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3OT)
A wild, crazy, but gut-wrenching loss at Kroger Field for the Wildcats, who came closer than they had in decades to snapping The Streak but just fell short. A missed delay of game call in the first OT was big story in this one. Still, Stoops looked impressive coming so close in just his second year.
2015: Florida 14, Kentucky 9
Another close one, but with less scoring as UK just couldn’t get a touchdown. Two straight years of almost got them, one in 3OTs at The Swamp and this five-point loss in Lexington.
2016: Florida 45, Kentucky 7
2016 did not start well for UK, as they got embarrassed in their opener with a home loss to Southern Miss and then got completely stomped at Florida. Fortunately this has been their only loss larger than 24 points.
2017: Florida 28, Kentucky 27
I’m not sure how the 3OT loss felt because I didn’t see it, but I know UK wasn’t expected to win that one. This one might be the worst of them all. UK was leading all game long until the Gators marched down in the 4th quarter and took a one point lead. Then, after actually fighting back to get in Austin MacGinnis’s field goal range, a holding call reared its ugly head and doomed The Streak to continue for a 31st and final year. I guess for UK it really was darkest before the dawn.
2018: Kentucky 27, Florida 16
At last! In one of the greatest performances and wins of Stoops’s 60 victories, the ‘Cats fought for four quarters in The Swamp and at last managed to end The Streak once and for all. One of the two decisive plays of the game was Terry Wilson’s greatest pass of his UK career: a 54-yd deep ball to Lynn Bowden for a 21-10 Kentucky lead in the 4th quarter. The other was the one that made it official: as Felipe Franks tried to make a last-ditch attempt to break the ‘Cats hearts once again in the final seconds, UK’s greatest linebacker ever Josh Allen sacked him, popped the ball out, and started the celebration.
2019: Florida 29, Kentucky 21
The attempt for two in a row fell just short a year later in Lexington when Chance Poore’s field goal went wide right in the 4th quarter, but a Terry Wilson-less ‘Cats team did knock Felipe Franks out for the season as well, which of course meant that UF’s backup Kyle Trask would ball out against UK, the rest of the conference, and go contend for the Heisman in 2020. Oops.
2020: Florida 34, Kentucky 10
Ever tried to play football when a large portion of your team has covid? It doesn’t go too well, as UK found out on this November afternoon in The Swamp.
2021: Kentucky 20, Florida 13
Storm the field! Finally, a sold-out Kroger Field crowd got to not have their hearts broken. Florida was also the #10 team in the country coming into this one, and while we all knew UK was good, they were national underdogs. But a blocked field goal the ‘Cats returned for a touchdown in the third quarter completely changed the game in a play that’s probably one of the most replayed and coolest of the last decade. I’m not sure the last time the stadium got as loud as it did at that moment, but you can see on the replay just how nuts everybody went. A 7-10 deficit turned into a 13-10 lead, and a re-energized Kentucky squad scored another TD to make it 20-10 before Florida scored a field goal and then tried to tie it in the final minutes. Overtime looked inevitable, but false start penalties and stout defense held up just enough to deny them on 4th and Goal and send Lexington partying.
If UK wins tonight in Gainesville, Stoops will have more wins against Florida than any other UK coach except Fran Curci (4) and Bear Bryant (5). Few teams in the SEC as a whole know how to beat Florida like Stoops’s troops do, as they’ve done it twice in the past four years. Utah certainly didn’t have that kind of experience last week, so I think the Gators better watch out and not get too attached to that lofty #12 ranking. Go ‘Cats!