Heading into game week, Florida sophomore wide receiver Freddie Swain didn’t know the Gators had won 30 straight games against the Kentucky Wildcats.
On Saturday, Swain’s 5-yard touchdown catch from Luke Del Rio helped assure that the Gators would extend the streak to 31 games.
It was the final act from the offense that came back from a 13-point deficit to defeat the Wildcats 28-27 in Lexington, Ky., and keep Wildcats fans having to wait once again for their next chance to end the streak that started back in 1987.
Saturday, however, isn’t the only game in Florida’s now 31 years of dominance that will be remembered by both sides.
Here’s a look at some of Florida’s top wins in the series.
1993: ‘Doering’s got a touchdown’
The streak was barely thought of as a streak at this point. The seventh-ranked Gators had won six straight against the Wildcats at that point.
But Kentucky was looking for a win to become relevant in the series again — and it came close.
The Wildcats led 20-17 on Sept. 11, 1993, when Danny Wuerffel stepped up to the line of scrimmage with 10 seconds left. The end zone was 28 yards away.
Wuerffel dropped back and fired a ball deep down the middle of the field for wide receiver Chris Doering. Doering caught the ball in the end zone behind three Kentucky defenders before getting mobbed by teammates.
Florida won 24-20, and the touchdown led to one of Florida play-by-play announcer Mick Hubert’s best calls in which he exclaims “Doering’s got a touchdown!”
2003: Chris Leak’s fourth-quarter comeback
The streak was 16 years old at this point when Kentucky looked like it would come out on top. In Rich Brooks’ first season at the helm of the Wildcats program, Kentucky jumped out to a 21-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter with the Gators grasping for any sort of offensive momentum.
Sounds familiar, right?
Well, the ending was nearly identical to Saturday.
Florida freshman quarterback Chris Leak led Florida to three touchdowns on four drives to take a 24-21 lead with 3:15 left to play. The Wildcats missed a 49-yard field-goal attempt with 44 seconds left that sealed their fate.
Leak and Florida had no problem defeating Kentucky with ease over the quarterback’s final three years. The final scores of those games: 20-3 (2004), 49-28 (2005) and 26-7 (2006).
2017: The latest comeback
The streak seemed to be in jeopardy Saturday night. A young Florida offense failed to muster any consistency, with most drives ending before reaching midfield. Kentucky quarterback Stephen Johnson exposed the Gators’ defense through three quarters and picked apart the secondary. Starting quarterback Feleipe Franks — who just one week earlier lifted the Gators to a last-second 26-20 win over Tennessee — was benched in favor of Del Rio.
It looked bleak.
And then, with less than 12 minutes left, the Gators scored touchdowns on back-to-back drives and the defense held firm to secure the win.
Florida capped the game off by marching 58 yards down the field on 13 plays — converting two fourth downs along the way — before Del Rio found Swain in the end zone for a 5-yard touchdown with 43 seconds left in regulation.
2014: Triple overtime controversy
The debate about whether Jeff Driskel got the snap off on time will continue as long as the streak does.
With the Gators trailing Kentucky 27-20 in the first overtime period and Florida facing fourth-and-7, Driskel stood in the shotgun. As the play clock hit double zeros, Driskel received the snap from center Max Garcia, dropped back and threw a fade off his back foot to Demarcus Robinson in the left corner of the end zone to keep the game going.
The Gators wound up winning 36-30 in triple overtime on a 1-yard touchdown run from Matt Jones to extend the streak to 28 games.
1987: The win that started it all
No ranking of a streak like this is correct if it doesn’t include the win that started it all. It wasn’t a tightly contested game — Florida won 27-14 at home — but the win gave the Gators their sixth win of the season and pushed them to bowl eligibility for the first time in four seasons (the Gators were on a bowl ban in 1984 and 1985 due to NCAA violations).
Emmitt Smith was a freshman running back that year, Kerwin Bell served as Florida’s quarterback and the Gators ultimately finished that season 6-6.
But in the grand scheme of things, 1987 served as the start of a Florida win streak that is still ongoing.