A three-decade wait, and perhaps the biggest win for Kentucky in almost seventy years.
A three-decade wait, and perhaps the biggest win for Kentucky in almost 70 years.
The Wildcats went into Gainesville and pulled off a stunner on Saturday, beating the Gators 27–16 and in the process ending a 31-game losing streak to their SEC East counterparts. It was the fourth-longest streak in an uninterrupted series in NCAA history.
Kentucky's victory also snapped Florida's 13-game winning streak in conference openers.
The Dan Mullen era at Florida began with a 53–6 victory over Charleston Southern last weekend, and conventional wisdom said that the new hire would be able to work out some of the quarterback and offensive line issues that have plagued Florida for years.
Trailing 21–10 Florida, converted a fourth-and-seven with five minutes to go and capped off a 15-play, 99-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown pass from Feleipe Franks to Freddie Swain with 3:34 left in the game. The ensuing two-point conversion failed.
Kentucky, who hadn't won in Gainesville since 1979, got the ball and had to punt after six plays.
Florida's last chance ended when Franks was hit by Kentucky linebacker Josh Allen and fumbled. The ball was returned 30 yards for a touchdown as time expired, setting off a wild celebration on the Kentucky sideline.
Benny Snell Jr. ran all over Gators on Saturday, gaining 175 yards on 27 carries and was aided by quarterback Terry Wilson's 151 yards passing and two touchdowns. Wilson, a junior college transfer who started his career at Oregon, also had 101 yards rushing and scored on a 24-yard run that gave Kentucky the lead for good early in the third quarter.
Florida spent too much time trailing by double digits in the second half to mount a frantic late comeback. Gators fans were livid when a 36-yard field goal attempt that appeared to curl in over the upright was ruled no good, a non-reviewable call.
The Wildcats now have a chance to make some noise in the SEC. After playing Murray State next week, both Mississippi State and South Carolina have to come to Lexington.
Later on in early November, Kentucky hosts SEC East favorite Georgia sandwiched in between two emotional rivalry games for the Bulldogs, against Florida and Auburn. For now, ending the infamous streak that has hung over the program for decades is progress enough for head coach Mark Stoops.