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Stoops’ 10: No. 1 The Streak Ends

© Kim Klement | USATSI

© Kim Klement | USATSI

Kentucky FINALLY kicks off the season tomorrow, which means we are wrapping up the best 10 games of the Mark Stoops era series.

Yep, you guessed it, number one is…BEATING EKU IN OT!! — No, seriously, it’s obviously Kentucky’s streak-ending performance last year in The Swamp. This was, without a doubt, the most important Kentucky victory in the last 50 years, and the first of many memorable games in a special season.

Kickoff is in less than 24 hours; what a better way to get there than reliving that magical night?

No. 1: Kentucky 27, No. 25 Florida 16 – September 8, 2018

We all know the story; thirty-one straight years of losing to Florida. Jared throwing the interception, Chris Doering scoring at the last second, the College Gameday loss, the play clock running out, and, of course, leaving the wide receivers open twice.

The 2017 loss to Florida was one of the most painful losses any fan base has ever suffered. It was right there for the taking. If not for one little mistake, Kentucky snaps the streak in front of a sellout crowd and Lexington turns into a zoo. Instead, the loss took the wind out of the 2017 season and left Stoops and the rest of the BBN waiting for that next chance.

They didn’t waste that next chance. Something just felt different. I specifically remember buying tickets two weeks out just saying, “It feels different this time” and drinking the kool-aid yet again. This time, it tasted oh so good.

Terry Wilson’s Best performance (so far…)

© Kim Klement | USATSI

The Terry Wilson we saw against Florida is the best version of Terry Wilson. Kentucky got exactly what they expected out of him as a dual-threat quarterback in his first season as a starter in a major conference, even if it came with the occasional turnover. From the start, Wilson was in the zone.

On Kentucky’s opening drive, Wilson set the tone when Florida sent a blitz on first down. He moved up in the pocket, found a seam and went for 31 yards to get it to Florida’s 23 to silence The Swamp. Two plays later, Wilson rolled to the right and hit David Bouvier on the run to put Kentucky up early.

After two turnovers on his last two drives and Florida up 10-7, Terry Touchdown needed to respond. He did just that, except he did it without completing a pass. Kentucky’s run game gashed the Florida defense into their own territory. Then, Wilson beautifully read an RPO for an untouched touchdown run. It made Florida fans sick.

For the finale, he uncorked a 54-yard bomb to Lynn Bowden to put the Cats up 21-10, Bowden’s first career touchdown.

When it was all said and done, Wilson went for 116 passing yards and 105 on the ground with three all-purpose touchdowns. He was the key to the biggest win in a generation. This is how the Kentucky coaching staff needs to let him play this year; live with the turnovers, and trust he will get it done. If we get this version of Terry Wilson this year, it’s going to be a fun season for Kentucky’s offense.

Benny Snell and that O-Line

While Wilson was undoubtedly the MVP for Kentucky’s offensive that famous September night, we must also recognize the often unrecognized: The Big Blue Wall. Thanks to the offensive line, Benny Snell had a big night. Even though he didn’t score a touchdown, Snell ran all over the Gator defense for 175 yards on 27 carries, and a lot of credit goes to the offensive line.

In the week following, national writers raved about how well Kentucky’s offensive line played against Florida; it was undoubtedly their best performance of the season.

Bunchy Stallings even won SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week, due in part to this huge pancake block that sprung Snell for 20 yards to help kill time off the clock and keep the game out of the Gators’ reach:

In the locker room after the game, offensive line coach John Schlarman was awarded the game ball, not only for his courage and strength in his on-going battle with cancer, but also the performance of his men upfront.

@UKFootball

What a great moment that was.

The Defense Pulled out all the Stops

And of course, as the cliche goes, defense wins football games; that’s what Kentucky’s defense did, allowing only 16 points to a Florida offense that averaged 35 points a game last season. Josh Allen won SEC Defensive Player of the Week. We’ll get to him in a second, but first I want to talk about Kash Daniel. Kash led the Kentucky defense with 11 tackles and was seemingly near the ball on every play. To have a Kentucky kid, who had never seen his Wildcats beat the Gators, play a huge role like that was something special.

Then there was Darius West. Kentucky was up 21-10 going into the fourth, but the BBN went in with guarded optimism. We knew the Cats had a steady lead, but if one thing was for certain in the last 31 years, there was some way for Florida to come back and win.

But, with a little over 10 minutes to go, Franks tried to hit a man over the sideline and out of nowhere, Darius West came flying in for his second career interception:

If Kentucky had scored another touchdown, the game would’ve been out of reach. Instead, they went three-and-out and Florida took it the other way to score a touchdown, making it 21-16 Cats. A two-point conversion would’ve put the Gators within a field goal, but Josh Allen made one of the most impressive and important plays of his career.

Florida HAD to score a touchdown to continue their long winning streak against the Cats. The Gators had one more shot.

AFTER 31 LONG YEARS…

Florida was down five from their own six-yard line with 29 seconds left. The probability of them winning was low, but after 31 straight years of heartbreak, the BBN couldn’t bear to watch. Franks hit his guy for a pick up of 19 yards to start the drive, and we all got a little uneasy.

Then, with nine seconds left, Franks tried to take one more shot, and Josh Allen made a play that will live forever in UK history.

After 31 years, Kentucky FINALLY BEAT THE GATORS 27-16.

After Davonte Robinson scored a touchdown as time expired, Kentucky fans players and coaches stayed in The Swamp for a solid hour relishing the moment. The Cats had finally killed the demon that had haunted them for 31 years.

In many ways, beating Florida was a huge step that Kentucky had to take to elevate the program. The victory ignited a ten-win season. No fan will ever forget it. State Street played “Grove Street Party” all night and Lexington was a zoo. Cars were flipped, champagne was sprayed, and shirts were off (Ryan Lemond). Kentucky can now look forward to starting its own streak when the Gators come into a sold out Kroger Field on September 13.

What a night.


Reliving these 10 games has been a blast, but enough basking and reminiscing, let’s do this tomorrow at noon against Toledo.

IT’S FOOTBALL TIME IN THE BLUEGRASS!


Check out our other games in the countdown to kickoff series:

No. 2: Did you See Lamar Fumble? (Kentucky 41, No.11 Louisville 38 – November 26, 2016)

No. 3: The Real Blue and White (No. 14 Kentucky 27, No.14 Penn State 24 – January 1, 2019)

No. 4: The Missouri Miracle (No. 12 Kentucky 15, Missouri 14 – October 27, 2018)

No. 5: We’re Just Getting Started Bro (Kentucky 45, South Carolina 38 – October 4, 2014)

No. 6: Kentucky is For Real (Kentucky 28, No. 14 Mississippi State 7 – September 22, 2018)

No. 7: The Kick Heard ‘Round the Commonwealth (Kentucky 40, Mississippi State 38 – October 16, 2016)

No. 8: Stephen Soars over Rocky Top (Kentucky 29, Tennessee 26 – October 28, 2017)

No. 9: Tongues Out in the Sandstorm (Kentucky 23, South Carolina 13 – September 16, 2017)

No. 10: The First Road Victory (Kentucky 26, South Carolina 22 – September 12, 2015)


If you enjoyed these past 10 days, follow me on twitter for more quality content: @BrentW_KSR

Article written by Brent Wainscott

Twitter: @BrentWainscott_

3 Comments for Stoops’ 10: No. 1 The Streak Ends



  1. MacAssassin123
    7:46 pm August 30, 2019 Permalink

    AND THATS THE BOTTOM LINE BECAUSE CASH MONEY SAID SO!!!!!!!



  2. Kentuckiana
    8:22 pm August 30, 2019 Permalink

    These articles were very enjoyable to read.
    Job Well Done !!!!



  3. cats646
    11:07 pm August 30, 2019 Permalink

    I had the pleasure of being at this game. Literally cried after it was over. The best event I’ve ever attended by FAR!!!!!! Well folks, it’s finally back!! It’s football time in the bluegrass!!!!!! Now let’s go get some HUGE wins this year!!! Up next in “Stoops’s 10” UGA! Let’s get it!!
    #bringit!!!!!!!!
    GO BIG BLUE!!