One of the longest win streaks in college football history is on the line this week, as the Florida Gators face the Kentucky Wildcats at 7:30 p.m. ET Saturday in Gainesville. The Gators have beaten the Wildcats 31 straight times, the longest active winning streak by a college football team over an opponent and the fourth-longest ever.
Last year the Gators won 28-27 at Kroger Field, thanks to QB Luke Del Rio throwing an easy touchdown to an undefended receiver.
Wait, it’s really been 31 games since UK beat the Gators?
Yep! The last time the Wildcats defeated Florida was in 1986, with Kentucky’s 10-3 win. Florida leads the all-time series, 51-17, and holds a 28-4 edge in Gainesville.
“It is important to (end the streak) for that reason, but we can’t focus on it for that reason,” UK head coach Mark Stoops said ahead of the 2018 matchup. “We need to focus on it because it’s this year. It’s an SEC team, it’s in the East and we want to win some football games. They’re next on the schedule, and that’s truthfully what it is about. These guys cannot worry about 30-some years and all that. They really can’t. Winning is important to our team each and every week, and that’s the approach we’ll have.”
New Florida head coach Dan Mullen downplayed the streak a bit.
“I don’t know what that has to do with the game this week,” Mullen said. “Our guys didn’t have a whole lot to do with that and neither did they guys on their team, nobody. I don’t think that has any effect on this week’s game. It’s going to be two good teams going out to go play each other.”
“It’s 31, right?” Gator DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson said. “It’ll be 32 after Saturday.
Here’s what was going on in 1986, the last time the Wildcats beat Florida
- New Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley was 3 years old. In 2017, Riley replaced Bob Stoops, the brother of UK coach Mark.
- The Berlin Wall still stood. Ronald Reagan was serving his second term as president, and the wall didn’t come down until 1989.
- Top Gun was the highest-grossing movie. Three decades later, there’s talk of a sequel.
- The New York Mets won the World Series. They beat the Boston Red Sox in seven games, the last World Series title for the club since.
- Oprah Winfrey’s first television show aired. She’s been one of America’s most famous people for most of the time since.
- Penn State won the national title. The Nittany Lions picked off Miami Hurricanes quarterback Vinnie Testaverde to upset the Canes in the Fiesta Bowl.
- The first Legend of Zelda video game was released. The 19th entry in the series came out in 2017.
- Jack Nicklaus won the Masters. The legendary golfer was 46 years old and wasn’t expected to win whatsoever — he hadn’t won a major in six years.
- The movie Highlander came out. The six-year television show based on it ended 19 years ago.
- Vick’s endlessly parodied "I'm not a doctor, but I play one on TV" commercial first aired.
- The Chicago Bears won Super Bowl XX. Mike Ditka’s team beat the New England Patriots, 46-10. The Pats would then be terrible for a while before becoming a dynasty. That Super Bowl came a few months after the Bears did this:
There have been some close calls, though.
In 1993, Florida beat Kentucky in Lexington, 24-20, the victory sealed by a touchdown quarterback Danny Wuerffel threw to receiver Chris Doering with three seconds left. Florida radio announcer Mick Hubert’s “DOERING’S GOT A TOUCHDOWN!” call became an instant classic:
The craziest stat? Florida threw seven interceptions that night.
In 2003, the streak looked like it was ending at 14. During Rich Brooks’ first season, his team was up 21-3 at halftime. But in the fourth quarter, true freshman Chris Leak took over.
The game in 2007 looked like one of Kentucky’s best shots, after a historic upset over No. 1 LSU the week prior. But Tim Tebow and Florida’s offense scored two fourth quarter touchdowns.
And three of the past four meetings have been decided by six points or less. In 2014 in Gainesville, Kentucky lost, 36-30, in triple overtime amid dubious officiating, then 14-9 at home in 2015.
With a streak like this, there’s always a chance it can be broken.
Both teams are 1-0 heading into the matchup — Florida beat Charleston Southern 53-6 last week, and Kentucky beat Central Michigan 35-20.
“I imagine, one day, the streak will be broken,” UF coach Dan Mullen said. “That’s just the nature of sports.”
Florida is currently a 14-point favorite.