The year was 1986. I was working third shift in a computer room. I had not yet been married or had a child and I still thought golf was the most pointless game ever invented. And as we all know, it was the last time Kentucky had beaten Florida in football.
Since that time, I had a long and productive career in information technology, got married, had a child, retired, got divorced, and lost both of my parents and my big brother. A whole lifetime was lived.
Year after year, I watched my Cats lose to the Gators. Sometimes, it wasn’t even close and other times, it was heartbreaking to watch us snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
Last year, I got to cover my first Florida-Kentucky game at Kroger Field. I was on the field for the game’s final 5 minutes. I, along with the entire BBN, had my heart crushed as I watched the game slip away from the Cats’ grasp.
In spite of everything, I was filled with hope again this year. I just knew this would finally be the year that the frustration, heartache, and that (expletive deleted) streak would end. And finally, on the backs of Terry Wilson and Benny Snell, Jr., the Cats got one big monkey off of their backs as they defeated the Gators in The Swamp by a score of 27-16.
Perhaps it was fitting that the Gators lost in the manner that Kentucky had so many times in the past. There was the mental error where Florida was called for too many men on the field after a timeout. And, of course, there was the final play of the game when Josh Allen forced a fumble that Davonte Robinson returned for a touchdown.
Make no mistake about it: Kentucky was the better team from the opening snap and led the entire game. They had more total yards (454-360) and rushed for 303 yards, compared to Florida’s 128. They overcame 2 turnovers and 114 yards of penalties. In short, they left Gators fans leaving the stadium feeling lost enough to say this:
Overheard from dejected Florida fan leaving the stadium: “Well, there’s always basketball and baseball.”
— John Huang (@KYHuangs) September 9, 2018
And at least one Gator didn’t seem to take the loss much better:
A Florida running back announced his transfer minutes after losing to Kentucky. Looks like everyone is handling things really well in Gainesville right now https://t.co/lBP3snQcLp
— Aaron Torres (@Aaron_Torres) September 9, 2018
Yes, there are still a lot of games remaining in this season, but at long last, the Cats have truly taken that “next step” that Coach Stoops has talked about for months. Nonetheless, this was a huge victory. This win vindicated Mark Stoops. It was vindication for the fans that supported Stoops during his entire time at Kentucky. It was vindication for all the fans that had faithfully supported this Wildcat team for decades with very little return on their investment.
How will this win impact the rest of the season? It’s possible that having overcome this mental hurdle, the team will become even more focused and determined and end up winning more games than many previously predicted. Only time will tell but until then BBN, enjoy this victory. Let it help erase all those memories that some of you haven’t been able to let go of for years. Let this be the inspiration to get back to Kroger Field and fill the seats for every game and let our Boys in Blue know they have our support.
And for those that care:
The last time Kentucky beat Florida: The number 1 song was In My Feelings by Drake, Crazy Rich Asians was the number 1 movie, gas was 2.89 and Donald Trump was president. #BBN
— Chris Bailey (@Kentuckyweather) September 9, 2018
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