UK missed best chance to bring down a Spurrier team

COLUMBIA, S.C. — The UK football team has already had the opportunity to break many long streaks this year.

The Cats won a game over a top-10 team for the first time since 1977 when they beat Louisville. Their 5-0 start was the best since 1983. Quarterback Andre Woodson broke the record for most consecutive passes without an interception.

But this streak was bigger than the rest.

Kentucky was winless against Steve Spurrier in 14 chances — 12 of those beatdowns coming when he was at Florida and the other two since he took over at South Carolina.

Spurrier’s average margin of victory when he was in charge at Gainesville: 30 points. In two seasons at USC, it was 17.5.

UK never stood a chance to beat him until last night at Williams-Brice Stadium. It was the Cats’ best chance to knock off the ‘Ol Ball Coach’.

And they still couldn’t pull it off. South Carolina 38, UK 23. Spurrier 15, UK 0.

This is, undoubtedly, UK’s best team since 1990. This is, undoubtedly, one of Spurrier’s most pedestrian teams in the last two decades.

It’s just like completely winging a test. If you have 15 multiple choice questions, chances are, you’re going to get one answer right. Just one.

And of those 15, this was by far UK’s best chance at a win.

“We definitely knew we could compete with them and possibly come away with the win,” Woodson said.

Spurrier has always been known for throwing the ball around the field. But to do that, you must have a good quarterback.

Spurrier has a borderline-decent quarterback in redshirt freshman Chris Smelley, and he still found a way to beat the Cats.

On USC’s first play from scrimmage, Smelley had to call a timeout because he was so clueless. After the first quarter, there weren’t many long pass plays called.

Spurrier won this game with a defense that forced UK to three field goals. And with a pass rush that hurried Woodson the entire night. And with a run defense that forced fumbles by Cats’ backs Tony Dixon and Rafael Little.

Not only did the Cats lose the chance of beating Spurrier for the first time, but they lost out on several other opportunities.

With a win, the Cats would have moved to 6-0 for the first time since 1950, the year of their only outright Southeastern Conference championship.

They also missed out on the opportunity to take complete control of the SEC East. A win would have kept them undefeated in the league, something no other team in the division could have said.

“It’s extremely disappointing to be in a position to go to 2-0 in the league and now we’re 1-1 and we’re clearly way back in the pack,” head coach Rich Brooks said.

Spurrier didn’t do this alone.

Woodson came back down to earth. He had two fumbles, both returned for scores by Eric Norwood, he had a red zone interception, and he threw off his back foot several times throughout the night. He wasn’t alone; the offense turned it over four times.

“You can’t do that to any team and expect to win,” offensive coordinator Joker Phillips said.

And you can’t expect to break any more streaks.

Jonathan Smith is a journalism senior. E-mail [email protected]