UK football looks to snap losing streak to Florida


Patrick Towles. The University of Kentucky football team lost a heartbreaker to Florida 36-30 in triple overtime on Saturday, September 13, 2014, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla. Photo by Chet White | UK Athletics

Roman West

The Kentucky Wildcats (3-0, 1-0) will enter the Sept. 23 game against the Florida Gators (1-1, 1-0) with the burden of the longest active losing streak to a single opponent in the country on their shoulders.

The Gators have beaten the Cats 30 consecutive times, but UK is no stranger to breaking long losing streaks. Between 1985 and 2010, UK had a losing streak to Tennessee before ending it in 2011 with an upset win in Lexington.

Many view this year as the year the Cats could pull off the upset and end their losing streak to the Gators, similar to 2011.

Mark Stoops has only been coaching in this losing streak for four years, but has had some success against the Gators despite the losses.

In his second year as head coach, Stoops’ and the Cats took the Gators to overtime for the first time in series history, but fell 36-30 in the third overtime of the night.

The following season, Kentucky was able to keep it as close once again, but wound up losing 14-9. Last season was a disaster for the Cats in The Swamp, getting routed 45-7 while starting quarterback Drew Barker threw three interceptions.

It’s a new year, however, and the Cats are undefeated and sitting atop the SEC East standings to start the season. After beating Southern Miss in the season opener and Eastern Kentucky in the home opener, Kentucky traveled to South Carolina to open the SEC season, and beat the Gamecocks 23-13.

The Gators have only played two games so far this season after Hurricane Irma caused them to cancel their second game against Northern Colorado. Florida played Michigan for their first game of the season, losing 33-17.

Last week, they opened their SEC schedule against Tennessee and won on 63-yard Hail Mary touchdown pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks as the clock hit zero.

Franks came into the season under the shadow of highly touted Notre Dame transfer, Malik Zaire. Franks pushed for the starting job once he showed up on campus, splitting minutes with Zaire in the first game and playing the entire second game. Franks looks to have solidified the starting position with his late game heroics against Tennessee.

The Gators defense will be a point of emphasis this week as they have scored more touchdowns (three) than their offense has (two). Their defensive scoring has been led by defensive back CJ Henderson, who has returned an interception for a touchdown in both games this season.

Kentucky also features a standout defensive back, Derrick Baity Jr., who was named SEC co-Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against South Carolina. Baity was responsible for three of Kentucky’s takeaways, making two tackles on critical fourth-and-ones to go along with an interception.

Another Wildcat to watch this week is Benny Snell Jr. Snell, only a sophomore, has rushed for 615 yards in his last five SEC games on 125 carries, averaging out to 4.92 yards per carry. Against the Gamecocks Snell rushed for 102 yards, his second straight week with over 100 yards on the ground. Snell also tacked on two touchdowns against the Gamecocks.

Saturday’s game against the Gators will kick off at 7:30 p.m. at Kroger Field. The game will be televised on the SEC Network.