GAINESVILLE -- Florida has every reason to look past Saturday’s game against Kentucky.
No matter how it’s dissected, the history of the matchup between the schools is completely one-sided. The Wildcats have been mired in a quarter-century of ineptitude when it comes to playing football games against the Gators, who hold a 45-17 all-time advantage in the series. For 25 consecutive years, when UF and UK meet, Florida has put a check in the win column. And it hasn’t really been close.
Since 1986, Kentucky has been beaten by 13 points or more 18 times. Florida has won by margins of 73-7, 65-0 and 63-5. Even last year, a down year by UF standards, the Gators won 48-10 in Lexington, Ky.
When asked this week how they thought it might feel to lose to one team 25 consecutive times, Florida’s players struggled to muster a response. Some seemed shocked, not having known the streak was that long.
“That’s an impressive streak,” quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “I didn’t know all that.”
Senior safety Josh Evans said he couldn’t remember ever being part of a team that lost so many times in a row to one opponent.
“I can’t think of [one],” he said.
But Evans knew what it would feel like: “It would [stink].”
Despite having been a part of the series as a player from 1981 to ’84 and as an assistant as early as 1988, even Kentucky coach Joker Phillips was still surprised by a stat this week. In his Monday news conference, Phillips was asked about the discrepancy in first-quarter scoring in recent years, as Florida has outscored Kentucky 94-3 in the first quarter of the past four meetings. Phillips’ response?
“Wow,” he said. “That’s the answer to your question.”
With all of those numbers in the Gators’ favor and a week off slated before No. 2 LSU visits Gainesville on Oct. 6, it’s easy to see why No. 14 Florida could be facing a letdown against Kentucky.
Plus, the Gators are riding high after two impressive road wins, and the Wildcats are coming off a home loss to Western Kentucky.
But UF coach Will Muschamp said his players have been focused and have had a good week of practice, knowing there’s too much at stake to look past any opponent.
“My approach has always been [that] every game counts as one,” Muschamp said. “Regardless of the situation or the circumstances, where you play or who you play. And that’s the way we try and approach every game, for that reason.”
Evans said the 25-year streak doesn’t mean anything once the game begins.
“That statistic is thrown out [of] the room,” he said.