|No. 5 Florida tries to extend streak vs. Kentucky|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 24 October 2008 09:57|
Florida has won the last 21 meetings between the Southeastern Conference schools, the second-longest active streak in a continuous series in major college football. Only Tennessee's 23-game winning streak against Kentucky is longer.
The fifth-ranked Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC) will try to extend the streak Saturday at The Swamp against the injury-riddled Wildcats (5-2, 1-2).
``Anything can happen,'' Florida running back Chris Rainey said.
e this one has all the makings of a ``trap'' game:
-Florida is coming off a dominating 51-21 victory over defending national champion LSU.
-Florida has No. 9 Georgia up next, a game the Gators have been talking about and pointing to for nearly a year, ever since the Bulldogs congregated in the end zone to celebrate their first touchdown. The move drew a penalty, but sparked a 40-32 victory that was Georgia's third win in the last 18 games in the storied rivalry.
-It's Florida's Homecoming game, complete with plenty of diversions like a team captain's dinner, a parade and a pep rally.
-It's an early start, something that seemed to be a problem for the Gators against Ole Miss and Arkansas.
``You have to keep that in consideration,'' Gators quarterback Tim Tebow said. ``You don't want to be dead, early game, Homecoming, everything like that. You just want to stay focused and take all those distractions and put them aside and focus on the game, Kentucky, and going out there and trying to dominate our opponent.''
Florida has dominated the series since a 10-3 loss in Lexington in 1986.
The Gators have outscored the Wildcats by an average of 41-19, and more than a third of the games (eight) ended with Florida up at least three touchdowns.
Most of the players on both sides weren't even born when Kentucky last celebrated a victory against the Gators.
lorida cornerback Joe Haden said. ``That's crazy. You just told me something new.''
The Wildcats have had their chances.
Fans of both programs remember the 1993 game, in which former walk-on receiver Chris Doering caught a 28-yard touchdown pass from Danny Wuerffel with 3 seconds remaining to give the Gators a 24-20 victory.
Ten years and as many lopsided meetings later, the Wildcats looked like they would finally end the streak in front of their home crowd. They led 21-3 going into the fourth quarter in 2003, but freshman quarterback Chris Leak rallied Florida to a 24-21 victory in his first career start.
And last year the Gators needed a short touchdown run from Tebow to stave off Kentucky's late surge and escape Lexington with a 45-37 victory.
``I believe we can win at Florida as long as we stayed focused,'' safety Matt Lentz said.
The Wildcats have reason to believe. Not only has their defense been one of the best in the league this season - they haven't given up more than 24 points in a game - but they also watched Navy snap the longest losing streak in a continuous series (43 games) last November when the Midshipmen upended Notre Dame 46-44 in triple overtime.
Nonetheless, Kentucky's injury situation could make the task even more daunting.
rick Locke (knee) for the year. They also will be without offensive tackle Justin Jeffries (knee) for a fourth straight game and defensive tackle Myron Pryor (ankle).
Five other defensive players, including all three starting linebackers, missed practice this week and could be limited against the Gators.
``We have a lot of depth right now, and we have guys that will step up to the occasion and make plays,'' defensive tackle Corey Peters said.
The Wildcats will need that to happen to avoid extending the losing streak.
``It has relevance because we never hear the end of it,'' Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. ``Some of the players weren't even born when that streak started. If we believed in streaks, we wouldn't have played in bowl games the last two years.''