John Clay

I’ve been at all 30 of Kentucky’s losses to Florida. Here are five that stick out.

There is one consistent element in Kentucky football’s 30-year losing streak to the Florida Gators.

I have covered all 30.

My first year on the UK football beat for the Lexington Herald-Leader was 1987, the year that streak began. I have been to every one since, through 1999 as the beat writer and starting in 2000 as a columnist.

So as the Cats try to snap the streak on Saturday at Kroger Field, among those 30 defeats, here are my five most memorable, if for different reasons.

1993 — Florida 24, Kentucky 20 in Lexington: In what would be Bill Curry’s only bowl season at Kentucky, the Cats had opened with a 35-0 victory over Kent State when they welcomed Florida into Commonwealth Stadium. New defensive coordinator Mike Archer executed a game plan that saw UK pick off seven Florida passes.

Yet, somehow it wasn’t enough. Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel, who had replaced starter Terry Dean, found walk-on wide receiver Chris Doering in the end zone for a 28-yard touchdown pass with 3 seconds left for the win.

What I remember is after the game talking to Archer, who was so dazed and disappointed that in recounting the loss he misidentified the Florida quarterback who threw for the winning score.

1994 — Florida 73, Kentucky 7 in Gainesville: For Steve Spurrier, coaching against Bill Curry was personal. Spurrier was let go as an assistant coach at Georgia Tech when Curry replaced Pepper Rodgers as the coach of the Yellow Jackets in 1980. And Spurrier knew how to hold a grudge.

Fourteen years later at The Swamp, Florida scored the most points against a Kentucky defense in modern history. The Gators led 31-7 at the half and kept on going against a UK team that would finish 1-10.

Afterward, I remember Curry complaining bitterly to UK AD C.M. Newton, not about the way Spurrier had run up the score, but the treatment his players received from the Florida students sitting behind the UK bench.

2003 — Florida 24, Kentucky 21 in Lexington: The streak was at its halfway point when Florida and freshman quarterback Chris Leak visited Commonwealth Stadium. Rich Brooks’ first Kentucky team appeared on its way to an early program-boosting victory, up 21-3 after three quarters when it all fell apart.

A Kentucky penalty for having 12 men on the field kept Florida’s first touchdown drive alive. Its final (and winning) TD was set up when UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen, trying to make a play, threw a pass that was intercepted and returned 35 yards by the Gators’ Johnny Lamar with three minutes remaining.

I remember Brooks’ disappointment, who seemed to realize the difficulty of the task he faced.

2007 — Florida 45, Kentucky 37 in Lexington: Kentucky was fresh off its 43-37 three-overtime win over No. 1-ranked LSU when ESPN’s College GameDay came to Lexington for the first (and only) time to see UK star quarterback Andre Woodson face Florida star quarterback Tim Tebow.

Woodson threw for 414 yards and five touchdowns, but the shootout belonged to Tebow, who threw for four scores, rushed for 78 yards and another touchdown and went on to win the Heisman Trophy.

What I remember was how close UK came to a special season. The next week the Cats suffered an emotional letdown and lost 31-14 to Mississippi State. They finished 8-5 with a win over Florida State in the Music City Bowl.

2014 — Florida 36, Kentucky 30 (3OT) in Gainesville: Of the 30 losses, the closest Kentucky has come to snapping the streak was in Mark Stoops’ first trip to Gainesville as the UK head coach.

On its first possession in overtime, UK’s freshman running back Boom Williams took a swing pass from quarterback Patrick Towles and completely reversed his field to score a 25-yard TD to put UK ahead 27-20.

On its first possession, Florida faced a fourth-and-six from the 9-yard line when the play clock appeared to hit zero before the ball was snapped and quarterback Jeff Driskel hit Demarcus Robinson for what would be the tying touchdown. Two possessions later, Florida pulled out the six-point win.

What I remember was Stoops out on the field after that first overtime, pointing to the play clock and complaining to the officials to no avail.

Kentucky’s 30 straight losses to Florida

Date

Site

UK

UF

Dec

11/14/87

Gainesville

14

27

L

11/12/88

Lexington

19

24

L

11/18/89

Gainesville

28

38

L

11/17/90

Lexington

15

47

L

11/16/91

Gainesville

26

35

L

9/12/92

Gainesville

19

35

L

9/11/93

Lexington

20

24

L

9/10/94

Gainesville

7

73

L

9/9/95

Lexington

7

42

L

9/28/96

Gainesville

0

65

L

9/27/97

Lexington

28

55

L

9/26/98

Gainesville

35

51

L

9/25/99

Lexington

10

38

L

9/23/00

Gainesville

31

59

L

9/22/01

Lexington

10

44

L

9/28/02

Gainesville

34

41

L

9/27/03

Lexington

21

24

L

9/25/04

Gainesville

3

20

L

9/24/05

Lexington

28

49

L

9/23/06

Gainesville

7

26

L

10/20/07

Lexington

37

45

L

10/25/08

Gainesville

5

63

L

9/26/09

Lexington

7

41

L

9/25/10

Gainesville

14

48

L

9/24/11

Lexington

10

48

L

9/22/12

Gainesville

0

38

L

9/28/13

Lexington

7

24

L

9/13/14

Gainesville

30

36

L (3OT)

9/19/15

Lexington

9

14

L

9/10/16

Gainesville

7

45

L

Related stories from Lexington Herald Leader

  Comments