Florida vs. Kentucky score: Wildcats shock Gators, end nation's longest active winning streak
After more than three decades, the streak is finally over in a disastrous night for the Gators
After 31 years, it's finally over.
Florida fell 27-16 Saturday night to visiting Kentucky, ending the Gators' 31-game winning streak over the Wildcats -- the longest active winning streak over an opponent in FBS. Their last win prior to Saturday night was Nov. 15, 1986, four years before Steve Spurrier took over in Gainesville, for some perspective. It's the first win for Kentucky in Gainesville since 1979, which was when Jimmy Carter lived in the White House, if you needed a little more of that perspective to soak in from this moment.
Wildcats quarterback Terry Wilson completed 11 of 16 passes for 151 yards and two touchdowns, while running back Benny Snell rushed for 175 yards to earn coach Mark Stoops and Co. the upset in The Swamp.
So, what did we learn about Kentucky snapping the streak that's haunted it for so long on Saturday night?
1. Kentucky's running game is dangerous: After being pulled last week due to a nagging injury in the win over Central Michigan in favor of Gunnar Hoak, Wilson was unflappable under center in the win over the Gators. In addition to his stellar work through the air, he added 105 yards and a touchdown on the ground to take some pressure off star running back Benny Snell. It worked wonders in the upset win Saturday night but is also a huge development moving forward.
For the Wildcats offense to have this kind of success against a tough Gators defense, on the road with uncertainty under center, doesn't just end a streak -- it makes them dangerous in the SEC East. South Caroilina went down to Georgia Saturday afternoon, and no other SEC East team has a signature win like the one that Kentucky posted Saturday night. Will it matter in the long run? That remains to be seen. But at the very least, Kentucky not only broke the streak but announced to the SEC that it can at least make some noise in a division that, at the moment, is "Georgia and everybody else."
2. Dan Mullen needs time: The first-year coach of the Gators was one of the most notable hires of the offseason after Mullen turned Mississippi State into a competitive football program. Saturday's loss proves that it's going to take some time for Mullen to turn thing around.
One glaring concern is that Mullen doesn't have a quarterback. Feleipe Franks tossed five touchdown passes last week against Charleston Southern, but didn't have the same kind of luck against the Wildcats. The redshirt sophomore went 17 of 38 for 232 yards, two touchdowns and one interception. While the yardage might look nice, quite a bit of it occurred in the fourth quarter when the Wildcats were essentially in prevent defense. That's not to say Franks can't be that guy. Maybe he can. After all, it's his second game in Mullen's system and he went against an underrated Kentucky defense led by linebacker Josh Allen. But Gators fans must have patience. Mullen is still the same offensive genius that led Mississippi State to the No. 1 spot in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings in 2014, but he can't turn around a program neglected by former coach Jim McElwain overnight.
3. Whether either side admitted it, the streak mattered: Leading up to the game, coaches and players on both sides were peppered with questions about the 31-year dominance. The answers were very politically correct. Kentucky's players and coaches said that the 31 previous years had nothing to do with the 2018 team, and the same message was echoed with the Gators. On the surface, that's true. But it was clear from the opening kickoff that the Wildcats used the streak as motivation and Florida played tight -- perhaps hoping not to be the team that couldn't get the job done. For the Wildcats, it was obvious in the postgame interview. Snell was on the verge of tears after, as he said, "shocking the world." He went so far as to partially calling out former Gator Tim Tebow on live TV before stopping himself.
It's one game. But it's a huge game in a lopsided SEC East rivalry, and both sides were well aware.
4. The Gators had an awful night: Forget the on-field domination by the Wildcats, Florida lost even more once the game was over. Star sophomore cornerback Marco Wilson was announced as out for the season by his father after Wilson allegedly tore his ACL early in the first quarter. Though Kentucky did not throw much, UF was clearly hampered without its best corner throughout the game, primarily on a 55-yard touchdown reception midway through the contest.
The Gators also learned after the game that sophomore running back Adarius Lemons announced his intention to transfer. Lemons not only made this announcement but did so about 30 minutes after the loss. Though Lemons was Florida's No. 4 running back, he was the team's starting kickoff returner. Lemons has not been pleased about not touching the ball on offense.
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