First Win In Lexington Since 1986
Over the course of 16 games and 35 years and in virtually every way possible, the Kentucky Wildcats have lost to Florida in Lexington. However, after coming close on the last three occasions the Cats finally got the job done. In a thriller under the lights, Kentucky breaks the streak 20-13.
Who’s Number 1?
The Gators jumped out to an early 7-0 lead when Emory Jones hit Ja’Quavion Fraziers with a seven-yard pass. Ultimately, the Cats came answered right back on a 41 yard touchdown strike from Will Levis to Wan’Dale Robinson. The score was extra sweet for the Kentucky receiver who Gators’ coach Dan Mullen claimed to not know who he was earlier in the week. Robinson of course came into Saturday leading the SEC in receiving yards with 402.
Wan'Dale Robinson is just… DIFFERENT pic.twitter.com/vXN157Gcs5
— Aaron Torres Sports Podcast (@AaronTorresPod) October 2, 2021
The game looked like it was going to be a track meet but it turned out to be a defensive struggle, which was great for the Wildcats.
Big Night For The Defense
Following four straight punts, two for each side, Florida took the lead with five minutes to go in the half on a 51-yard field goal by Jace Christmann at 10-7. If you read our game preview we said for Kentucky to win they had to limit turnovers. Coming into Saturday the Cats ranked dead last in the nation in turnover margin. UK only had one, but it looked like a big one at the time. Levis was picked off by Tre’Vez Johnson and after a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Florida had it at the UK 31 yard line.
Meanwhile, the Wildcats defense held while forcing another Christmann field goal attempt. This time Josh Paschal blocked the low kick and Trevin Wallace took it 76 yards to the house putting the Cats up 13-10. For many long-time members of the Big Blue Nation, it hearkened back to the 1997 win over Alabama. In that game current defensive line coach Anwar Stewart scored on a blocked kick.
— Kentucky Football (@UKFootball) October 3, 2021
Following the score, the most UK football thing ever happened as Matt Ruffolo’s extra point was blocked leaving it a one-score game. Furthermore, Brad White’s group came up huge as Kentucky finally breaks the streak.
Two More Stops
Early in the fourth quarter Kentucky turned the ball over on downs at the Florida 34. On the next play, J.J. Weaver intercepted Jones giving UK the ball at the 29-yard line. From there Chris Rodriguez took over gaining 22 yards on three carries including the final nine for a score putting the Cats up by 10. Another Christmann field goal cut the lead to seven and after Kentucky gave the ball back fans were left wondering “oh no, not again.”
Jones drove the Gators down to the UK five-yard line thanks in part to a facemask penalty. Although a four-yard loss and a false start moved them back. Finally on fourth down from the eight Jacquez Jones batted down a pass and the celebration was on.
Penalties were a huge part of the game with Florida being flagged fifteen times for 115 yards. In addition eight of them were on false starts. On the other side of the ball, Kentucky only had four penalties for 30 yards. Much of the credit goes to the wild crowd at Kroger Field of 61,632. That’s the largest since the Florida game two years ago. The fans rushed the field following the game but you have to believe the school won’t be that upset about paying a fine as Kentucky breaks the streak 20-13.
Another Checked Box For The UK Head Man
Two games into his fourth season Mark Stoops was 12-26 at Kentucky. Since then he’s gone 42-24 giving him a 54-50 overall record. That puts him only six wins behind Bear Bryant for the all-time lead. In addition, he’s now won at Florida and Tennessee. He’s also led the Cats to their first 10 win season since 1977 and first New Year’s Day bowl win since 1952. One of the few remaining things left was beating Florida at home. Now that box has been checked too.
A difficult October schedule gets no easier for the now 5-0 Cats as they host LSU next week in a 7:30 kickoff on the SEC Network. It’s the first meeting between the two schools who used to play every year since 2014. In addition, it’s the first time since 2007 the Cats and Tigers have played in Lexington. Of course, the Big Blue Nation remembers that one as UK knocked off Number One ranked LSU 43-37 in three overtimes. In fact we here at Last Word On College Football rated it the school’s greatest victory.
Looking further down the road in two weeks Kentucky travels to Georgia. It’s the second time in four years they’ll battle for the SEC East title. It just shows how this program has come under Stoops.
As for the 3-2 Gators, they return home to “The Swamp” next week when they host Vanderbilt. They have won seven in a row in the series since the Commodores won 34-17 back in 2013.
Again Kentucky breaks the streak beating Florida 20-13 for the first home win since 1986. It’s a night where the Cats held the Gators to 178 yards on the ground, well below their 322-yard average. That ranked them third in the nation behind Air Force and Army. Thanks for checking out our recap here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll get you ready for the LSU game and have our updated bowl projections. Following this big win, one would think UK is moving up from last week’s Duke’s Mayo Bowl pick.