The Streak is Dead

University Avenue was empty when Matt Roark took a knee to beat Tennessee.

Commonwealth Stadium couldn’t be seen.

But it could be heard.

The screams were 26 years in the making but 60 minutes in the taking, erupting upward and outward, simultaneous with people in cars on the streets chiming in with honks, a swelling of noise accompanying history made.

Moving toward Limestone, it was the Tennessee fans who appeared first, walking in isolated orange-clad packs. Some bore resentful, reluctant smiles, trying to console themselves with the knowledge that at least it took 26 years to happen. Others were downright pissed, cussing out Derek Dooley and Tyler Bray with equal passion.

Move closer to Commonwealth, weaving through the departing traffic. Take a lap around the stadium as UK fans file out and the PA speaker announces that UK just shattered The Streak, in case nobody around knew why students were emerging from the stadium gates screaming at the skies, or why old men were dancing next to their cars, or why moms were telling their children, “aren’t you glad we decided to come today?”

The Volunteers fans did not feel the same way.

“It was more us than Kentucky,” said one Tennessee fan wearing orange pants. “We have such a f—— s—– team.”

This is true. Tennessee really was not a good team. But they were expected to be better than UK. Not on this day.

“We sucked less!” said one UK fan outside Commonwealth Stadium outside the game, arms raised and rejoicing. “We sucked less!”

Hang around the Commonwealth Stadium parking lot. Hear a man crack open a beer and say, “savor it. This is the best damn beer I’ve had in 26 years.” Watch fans recall the plays that mattered most. Listen to a man ask a woman why she kept taking picture after picture after picture of the setting sun.

“Because,” the woman said, “Kentucky finally won. And I was there.”