1984-2010: Kentucky loses 26 consecutive games to Tennessee
1986-2012: Kentucky loses 26 consecutive games to Florida
On the surface, those 2 streaks are equal. Kentucky has lost the same amount of games. Those 2 programs have been nationally dominant for much of those 26 years. 13 games were lost at home and 13 on the road in both series. Certain coaches have tormented the Cats (Phil Fulmer and Steve Spurrier). But I feel if you ask most fans, they will tell you without hesitation that the Tennessee streak hurt them much worse, and gave them a greater sense of embarrassment than the Florida streak currently does. And I think an obvious reason is that Tennessee is a border state and UK fans have to mix with UT fans on a much more regular basis than they do Florida fans.
But at the end of the day, is one streak worse than the other? Take a look at how those 26 years went:
CLOSE LOSSES (7 points or less)
Tennessee: 8 times
Florida: 5 times
BLOWOUT LOSSES (21 points or more)
Tennessee: 11 times
Florida: 14 times
Those 2 stats right there, I think, give a greater explanation as to why the rivalry with Florida doesn’t hurt as bad at the one to Tennessee. Frankly, Kentucky has hardly ever been close to beating Florida, and have experienced more serious blowouts as well. Only 5 out of 26 years has Kentucky been within 7 points of the Gators. 3 fewer close games and 3 greater blowouts lead fans to not care as much. I think most fans feel Florida is just a different level of program, while Tennessee was more obtainable. And the fact that Kentucky was able to end that streak, without a QB, somewhat verified that belief.
But now we come into this year. Same 26-game streak. A Florida team with a struggling offense, much like Tennessee in 2011. A Kentucky team with questions at quarterback, much like 2011. Game being played in Lexington. A fanbase looking for reasons to be motivated. Often times, things don’t work out like that in sports. But who knows, maybe 26 is just the lucky number for Kentucky football.
But the bigger question: Does the 26-game streak with Florida not bother you as much as the 26 losses to Tennessee?