In 1986, Ronald Reagan was president, "That's What Friends Are For " by Dionne Warwick, Elton John, and Gladys Knight was dominating the Billboard charts, a young Tom Cruise was burning up the screen in the iconic "Top Gun ," and the Doering's got a touchdown " over and over.
Ten years after Doering's incredible catch, Kentucky looked like a lock to end the streak at 17 years as the Wildcats held a 21-3 lead entering the final quarter of play. It didn't take long for things to fall apart. Chris Leak tossed two touchdown passes to Carlos Perez to cut the lead to 21-16 with just 4:46 to play. Then, Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen threw a pick to Johnny Lamar while attempting to avoid a sack, and the Gators defender raced 35 yards to give the offense excellent field position. Ran Carthon punched it in from there to give Florida the improbable lead. After a missed 49-yard field goal with about a minute left, the Gators ran the clock out for the win and kept the streak alive.
While the two years previously mentioned were heartbreaking, 2014 was a whole different kind of cruel to Kentucky. The Wildcats took a 27-20 lead at The Swamp in the first overtime and forced the Gators' offense into a four-down situation. Florida quarterback let the play clock run down to zero on the pivotal play, but no flags were thrown and Demarcus Robinson caught a game-tying touchdown. After field goals were exchanged in the second overtime, Florida took advantage of a missed Wildcat kick in the third extra frame and won the game on a Matt Jones 1-yard touchdown plunge.
Reversing the curse
Florida travels to Kentucky on Sept. 23 in the latest edition of the rivalry, looking to extend the streak to 31 years. Wildcats fans have reason to be optimistic for the contest, however, as Mark Stoops has the program coming off its best season in eight years. Kentucky returns most of its key pieces, while the Gators were ravaged by the NFL draft, losing eight starters from its dominant defense to the professional ranks.
No longer enjoying the benefit of fielding one of the best defenses in the country, Florida will need production from its offense, a unit which has ranked outside the top 100 in each of the past two seasons. Kentucky will still enter the contest as the underdog, but don't be shocked if the improving Wildcats reverse the curse and snap the incredible streak that's plagued their program for three decades.
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