Seniors look to end Tennessee streak in final collegiate game



On Nov. 24, 1984, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” was released to theaters nationwide just two weeks prior, Wham’s “Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go” was the top song on the charts and not one senior to be honored at UK’s Senior Day on Saturday had been born yet.

Nov. 24, 1984, was the last time UK football defeated Tennessee. UK has fallen at the hands of the Volunteers all 26 times, the longest active losing streak by one opponent to another in the nation.

“Honestly, to me, it’s embarrassing,” senior guard Stuart Hines said. “The fact that a streak can last that long in college football with the talent we’ve had on teams, especially since I’ve been here … It’s a pride thing.”

But this year, the Tennessee game means more. It’s more than just a rivalry or a thrilling regular season finale. By failing to become bowl eligible after a 19-10 loss to Georgia, the Tennessee game is, in a sense, UK’s bowl game, and for many of the seniors, the last chance they will have to put on a uniform and pads and play competitive football.

“Obviously, we don’t want to be known as the guys who ended the bowl streak,” Hines said, “so we’ve got a lot to play for this week.”

The Cats will honor 19 seniors and two juniors choosing to forgo their final year of eligibility at Senior Day. Among those being honored are linebackers Danny Trevathan and Winston Guy, the SEC’s two leading tacklers. Trevathan, who led the SEC in tackles in 2010, leads the conference again with 135 tackles to Guy’s 106.

UK will also be honoring punter Ryan Tydlacka. Tydlacka’s 43.7 yards per punt ranks second in the SEC and 20th in the nation. He also leads the SEC with 18 punts of 50 or more yards.

For the entire senior class, it will be the first and only season at UK that will end with Tennessee and not a bowl game. That is a pill that some seniors are still trying to swallow.

“You just have to look past it,” linebacker Ronnie Sneed said. “It’s unfortunate, but when you think about it, you really try to look at the overall picture and the overall success that you’ve had as a senior in the past years. We’ve done a lot of things that previous Kentucky teams haven’t done.”

But, as Sneed himself put it, this senior class still has one thing left to do.

“We still get to end this Tennessee streak,” Sneed said confidently.

At 5-6 on the year, Tennessee has one more win than 4-7 UK, with both teams recording one SEC win. But the Volunteers’ record does not reflect the abilities of the program.

Five of Tennessee’s six losses came against SEC opponents currently ranked in the top 13 in the BCS standings (No. 1 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 12 South Carolina and No. 13 Georgia).

It’s sixth loss was against the unranked Florida Gators, who earlier this season defeated UK 48-10 in Commonwealth Stadium.

If the Cats wish to remove the monkey from its backs and send their seniors off in style, they will have to equal their performance in a nine-point loss to SEC East champion Georgia on the road.

With Tennessee playing for bowl eligibility in the final week of the regular season, UK has been presented an opportunity to play the spoiler and show the pride it takes in this senior class and the commonwealth as a whole.

“We’re just playing for the seniors we have going out,” senior defensive back Anthony Mosley said.  “We’re playing for our program and we’re just playing for the pride of Kentucky right now. That’s how it always is at the end. Regardless of how the season has gone before Tennessee, Tennessee is always a big game for us and we always play emotionally, especially for the seniors.”