Going into Saturday's game at Florida, Mark Stoops says he will not discuss Kentucky's 27-game losing streak against the Gators with the Wildcats.
"It's not something I want to put in front of them," Stoops said Monday. "We're pretty motivated already."
In Gainesville, Florida Coach Will Muschamp was having no "streak" talk, either. "It's a 2014 Florida team versus a 2014 Kentucky team," Muschamp said. "That's all it is to me."
It is probably wise for the coaches not to dwell on the fact Kentucky has not beaten Florida in football since Ronald Reagan lived in The White House. The rest of us, however, do not have to be so restrained.
As recently as 2010, Kentucky had three truly embarrassing losing skids against league foes. However, in 2010, Randall Cobb helped the Wildcats rally past No. 10 South Carolina 31-28 to snap what was then UK's 0-for-17 all-time mark against teams coached by Steve Spurrier.
The following season, when injuries left the Wildcats without a healthy scholarship quarterback, wide receiver Matt Roark stepped in at QB and guided the Wildcats to a 10-7 victory over Tennessee that ended a 26-game UK losing streak versus the Rocky Toppers.
Say what you will about his ill-fated, three-year tenure (2010-12) as Kentucky head coach, but Joker Phillips did his alma mater the great service of ending two of the three epic UK losing skids.
Which leaves the Florida streak needing to be broken.
Kentucky's record of futility against Florida — with its talent-rich, home-state recruiting base — is at least more understandable than was the Cats' long losing skid versus Tennessee. Of the 27-straight UK losses to Florida, 21 have been by double digits.
Because there have been so few close games, the near-misses Kentucky has had against the Gators are magnified. In terms of most frustrating UK failures to end the Florida streak, I would rank the top five like this:
5.) 1998. Kentucky's Craig Yeast put on one of the electrifying individual performances ever seen in The Swamp. Yeast scored on a 74-yard touchdown pass. He scored on a 97-yard TD toss. He returned a kickoff 100 yards for another score. Yet UK still lost 51-35.
4.) 2002. Down 19-0 at halftime at Florida, Kentucky launched an epic rally and took a 28-25 lead late in the third quarter. Star UK return man Derek Abney scored on a kickoff return (100 yards) and a punt return (49 yards). Florida scored 16 of the game's final 22 points, however, to pull out a 41-34 win.
3.) 2007. UK was coming off an upset of No. 1 LSU, and ESPN's College GameDay came to Lexington for a much-hyped quarterback showdown between Kentucky senior Andre Woodson and Florida sophomore Tim Tebow. Woodson threw for 415 yards and five touchdowns; Tebow answered with four passing TDs and a rushing one. Yet Wildcats special teams miscues helped Florida escape 45-37.
2.) 2003. Kentucky entered the fourth quarter leading Florida 21-3, but true freshman Gators QB Chris Leak ignited a comeback. Florida was within 21-17 when UK quarterback Jared Lorenzen, trying to avoid a sack by Gators linebacker Channing Crowder, slung a no-look pass. It was picked off and returned to the 1-yard line, setting up Florida's game-winning touchdown.
1.) 1993. As Steve Spurrier fumed, Kentucky intercepted seven — seven! — Gators passes. The last one set up a 25-yard Juha Leonoff field goal that put the Wildcats ahead 20-17 with only 1:26 left. However, Danny Wuerffel took all the air out of Commonwealth Stadium when he hit a shockingly wide-open Chris Doering on a post pattern for a 28-yard TD pass with three seconds left to give the Gators a 24-20 win.
Distressingly from the UK perspective, since the 2007 Tebow-Woodson game Kentucky has not even been competitive with Florida. In the last six meetings, the Gators have outscored the Cats by an average of 34.8 points.
On Saturday night, Stoops will get a second crack at doing what Bill Curry, Hal Mumme, Guy Morriss, Rich Brooks and Phillips could not — finally beat Florida. It likely is asking a lot to expect the youthful current Cats to end Kentucky's Florida futility in 2014.
Still, it needs to happen soon. Simply put, it's hard for UK to build street cred as a legitimate SEC football program when it has a losing streak against a league foe that is older than the Wildcats players.