There is nothing like being a UK football fan. We are an incredibly passionate sports fanbase, and we back our winners as strongly as any college fanbase in the country. But included in that passion is a yearly balloon deflater known as the Kentucky football team. Even the best team at Kentucky in the last 30 years, the 2007 team, lost heartbreakers to Florida and Tennessee and had a completely flat performance on homecoming against Mississippi State. Because I am clearly a glutton for punishment, take a trip down memory lane below, and feel your heart break a total of 24 times in the last 8 seasons.
2002: #20 Florida 41, Kentucky 34
-Kentucky gets the ball down 7 with 4 minutes left, Lorenzen completes 3 passes for 2, 1, and 2 yards, then throws an incomplete pass on 4th down.
2002: South Carolina 16, Kentucky 12
-Kentucky leads 10-3 going into 4th quarter, give up 2 touchdowns in first 7 minutes of 4th quarter, UK gets ball to USC 6 yard line with 1:30 left before losing ball on downs.
2002: #25 LSU 33, Kentucky 30
-Kentucky actually handles end of game well, kicks what appears to be game winning field goal with 10 seconds left. LSU scores on Hail Mary.
2003: #17 Florida 24, Kentucky 21
-Kentucky leads 21-3 in 4th quarter, give up 3 touchdowns, still drive into Florida territory at end of game, but miss 49 yard field goal.
2003: South Carolina 27, Kentucky 21
-Kentucky gets the ball, down 7, with 2 minutes remaining. They get 1 first down and they turn it over on downs.
2003: Arkansas 71, Kentucky 63
-Kentucky had 3 chances on defense to stop Arkansas when leading in overtime, fail to do so each time. UK stalls at Arkansas 5-yard line in 7th overtime.
2004: South Carolina 12, Kentucky 7
-Kentucky leads 7-6 with 7 minutes left, give up 13-play scoring drive. UK then goes 3 and out on final drive of game.
2004: #15 Tennessee 37, Kentucky 31
-Kentucky leads 31-22 going into 4th quarter, fails to get a SINGLE FIRST DOWN in the quarter, give up 12 yard TD run with 38 seconds left.
2005: Louisville 31, Kentucky 24
-Down 7, Kentucky fumbles at the UL 2-yard line with 6 minutes remaining. UL able to put together 12 play drive to run out the clock.
2005: Mississippi 13, Kentucky 7
-Down 6 with 2 minutes remaining, Kentucky can not get stop, giving up 2 first downs.
2006: South Carolina 24, Kentucky 17
-On final drive, Kentucky moves ball to South Carolina 42, but final pass is knocked down.
2006: #19 Tennessee 17, Kentucky 12
-UK gives up early 4th quarter TD, drive to Tennessee 6 yard line with 3 minutes left but fail to score, UK gives up game clinching 3rd down conversion.
2007: #14 Florida 45, Kentucky 37
-Kentucky scores to cut lead to 7 with 6 minutes left, give up 5 play, 57 yard scoring drive that ices game for Florida.
2007: #19 Tennessee 52, Kentucky 50
-Down 3 in regulation, Kentucky drives to Tennessee 2 yard line with under a minute, run 3 non-scoring plays and are forced to kick a field goal. In 1st overtime, UK scores first but fails to stop Tennessee. In 2nd overtime, Tennessee fails to score but then UK has field goal blocked. In 3rd overtime, Kentucky scores but fails to stop Tennessee. In 4th overtime, Kentucky scores after UT scores, but UK can not convert 2-point conversion.
2008: #2 Alabama 17, Kentucky 14
-Down 7 enterting 4th quarter, UK can not score with their drive and then give up 16-play, 9 minute drive that clinches game for Alabama.
2008: South Carolina 24, Kentucky 17
-Kentucky leads by 3 entering 4th quarter, UK offense has 2 three and outs and a turnover in their 3 offensive possessions of the quarter, never running a single play in USC territory in 4th quarter.
2008: #13 Georgia 42, Kentucky 38
-Kentucky takes 4th quarter lead on 2 different occassions, recover 2 Georgia fumbles while holding the lead, but still give up game winning TD with 1:35 remaining. UK drives to Georgia 13 yard line but throws interception with :46 seconds left.
2008: Vanderbilt 31, Kentucky 24
-Kentucky starts drive down 7 with 5 minutes remaining, drives to Vandy 23 yard line but turns the ball over on downs. Vandy gets game clinching first down 2 plays later.
2009: #25 South Carolina 28, Kentucky 26
-Kentucky scores with 4 minutes left but fails on the 2-point conversion. South Carolina is then able to get 2 first downs in 7 plays to ice game.
2009: Mississippi State 31, Kentucky 24
-Kentucky enters 4th quarter down 31-24, throws interception inside Mississippi State 5-yard line and turn it over on downs inside the Mississippi State 20-yard line with their two 4th quarter possessions.
2009: Tennessee 30, Kentucky 24
-Kentucky drives inside Tennessee 10-yard line during regulation but forced to kick tying field goal. In overtime, Kentucky goes 3-and-out and misses field goal, then gives up 20 yard TD run to lose.
2009: Clemson 21, Kentucky 13
-UK enters 4th quarter down 1 point, fumbles in it’s own territory and gives up TD 3 plays later. Drives to Clemson 32 yard line and then turns ball over on downs. Clemson able to run out clock with 5:27 remaining.
2010: Mississippi 42, Kentucky 35
-Kentucky botches onside kick down 7 points, then Ole Miss able to run out last 2 minutes of game, including 49 yard run on 3rd down.
2010: #9 Auburn 37, Kentucky 34
-After tying score, Kentucky defense gives up 18 play, 86 yard drive and gives up field goal as time expires. During drive, Auburn able to convert three 3rd down conversions.
Now, if your eyes are not watering after reading through that, here is question that I want answered: DO THESE GAMES NOT PROVE THAT KENTUCKY’S MAIN PROBLEM WITH THE FOOTBALL PROGRAM IS MENTAL? What I mean is that when Kentucky gets into these type of close games, the team has had a LOSING mentality which leads to the bone-headed plays and poor performances we have seen. Kentucky tries to find ways not to lose, while programs like Florida find ways to win.
Kentucky has had good enough players to play with all of these teams through 3 quarters, but the 4th quarter has been doomsday so many times. Do our players suddenly lose all talent in the last quarter? I don’t think so. I think that our program has such a losing history that the players only know how to lose these games. And that type of attitude leads to those 24 losses.
I was hoping that the road wins over Georgia and Auburn last season proved that mentality was starting to go away from this program, but it feels like we are right back to where we have always been.