It’s odd to see the end of The Streak. Of course, it had to have an unusual ending.
A year after Kentucky suffered one of the most painful losses in the 31-year history of The Streak, ambivalence filled the Big Blue Nation. Some were prepared to once again drink the Kool-Aid, while many others refused to get their hopes up, only to be heartbroken once again. It took ten minutes of game time to get everyone on board.
Kentucky’s defense stopped Florida on the first possession, paving the way for the offense to roll into the end zone. Kentucky’s fast start was a nice surprise. It was the first of many.
Benny Snell carried a light workload in the first half. It became a concern when the turnover bug returned to bite Terry Wilson. The quarterback turned broken plays into big plays, but fumbled in Florida territory and threw an interception in the final seconds of the first half that kept three points off the scoreboard.
Trailing at halftime, the Cats left the locker room and immediately changed the game. Kentucky opened the second half with a 10-play 90-yard touchdown drive that came entirely on the ground. On the next drive, the Cats only moved the ball through the air. A third and 16 turned into a 54-yard Lynn Bowden touchdown — his first career score and the longest pass of Wilson’s young career — that gave Kentucky a 21-10 lead.
The plot thickened.
Just when you thought the Cats quit shooting themselves in the foot, flags were flying all over the field. Kentucky committed 12 penalties for 114 yards. It was just enough for doubt to creep back into the collective mind of the Big Blue Nation. “We’ve seen this before,” we thought, until something weird happened.
Florida lined up for a chip-shot field goal and missed…or did they? It looked like the ball sailed through the uprights, but the referee said it was no good, a call that cannot be reviewed.
The Cats were finally catching breaks against Florida, then Darius West caught Feleipe Franks ill-advised throw. The game was in Kentucky’s hands, but of course, it could not be that easy.
UK could not turn West’s interception into points. Instead they put Florida on the one-yard line. A stop and a few first downs would ice the game. The stop almost came on a third and 28, but Florida found a way to keep the drive alive. They finished a 99-yard drive with a touchdown and proceeded to go for two to close the lead to three. Franks missed a wide open receiver on the right side of the field. Instead he went left and the ball was tipped out of bounds.
Kentucky had a five-point lead, but Florida had one more chance to keep The Streak alive.
As time ticked away, Franks dropped back to pass. The odds to score were slim, but anything was possible. As Franks prepared to heave a prayer down the field, Josh Allen hit him in the backfield. The ball popped loose and everybody stopped. Upon the naked eye, it looked like an incomplete pass. Davonte Robinson picked up the ball and jogged toward the end zone. Everybody assumed the play was dead. As time expired, Robinson realized the whistle had not blown and he stretched his arm across the end zone.
Kentucky finally beating Florida + Titanic music pic.twitter.com/miY1sKSBO9
— paco (@AllaireMatt) September 9, 2018
Kentucky secured a 27-16 win to snap The Streak in the most surprising, unusual way possible. It couldn’t happen any other way.
We don’t have highlights from KY Wildcats TV, but we do have the following package from the SEC Network and this.
Dominant Offensive Line — The offensive line paved the way for 303 rushing yards. They bullied the Gators upfront (Bunchy Stallings almost killed a guy on a late, crucial third down) and protected Terry Wilson. Kentucky’s quarterback didn’t get sacked and he never took a hit.
Road Dogs — For the second straight year, Kentucky’s second game of the season was a win on the road. This one came against a ranked opponent. Kentucky has not won an SEC opener in consecutive years since 06-07.
Feels like the First Time — Kentucky has never beaten a ranked Florida team in The Swamp, until today. It’s UK’s largest margin of victory in a road win vs. a ranked SEC opponent since October 15th, 1977 at LSU.
Kash Money — Kentucky’s middle linebacker has 11 tackles in each of his first two starts. Stats have yet to be updated from around the league, but it’s safe to say he’s the SEC’s top tackler.
Third Down — It may have seemed like Kentucky’s defense struggled to get off the field on third down. They actually held Florida to 7-of-13 on third down while converting 9-of-13 times.
Stupid Offense — Kentucky averaged 8 yards per play and 7.4 yards per rush. The only way I can describe that stat is stupid. I guess conservative play-calling isn’t so bad after all.