Gators still streaking past Kentucky

ESPN's GatorNation brings you the 30 things you need to know about Florida’s upcoming 2012 season. Over the next 30 weekdays, we’ll preview games, talk about trends, spotlight players and positions, and give you pretty much everything you need to know to be ready for the season before the Sept. 1 opener against Bowling Green.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- For a lot of us, it’s hard to remember what happened in 1986. Here’s some help:

Gas cost 89 cents a gallon.

The Soviet Union was still reeling from a nuclear reactor explosion in Chernobyl.

The U.S. was still reeling from the Challenger explosion.

"Top Gun" was the year’s top-grossing movie.

"The Cosby Show" was television’s top show.

And Kentucky beat Florida.

That last thing is pretty significant because the Gators haven’t lost to the Wildcats since. Florida has won 25 consecutive games over Kentucky, which is the longest current winning streak in the FBS by a team over a major opponent in an uninterrupted series. It’s also the fourth-longest streak in FBS history by a team over a major opponent in a current uninterrupted series.

None of Florida’s current players were alive the last time the Gators lost to Southeastern Conference foe Kentucky, so they don’t remember UK quarterback Bill Ransdell completing 20-of-23 passes for 161 yards or Wildcats defensive back Tony Mayes stripping UF receiver Ricky Nattiel from behind to seal the 10-3 victory.

Since then, though, it has been all Florida -- although there have been some close calls, like the 18-point fourth-quarter comeback that quarterback Chris Leak engineered in his first career start in 2003. If the Gators win this year’s meeting (Sept. 22 in Gainesville) the streak will be tied for the third longest in FBS history by a team over a major opponent in a current uninterrupted series.

Here are a few interesting tidbits about the streak:

  • UF began the streak in 1987 with a 27-14 victory in Gainesville. The Gators scored on the opening kickoff on Stacey Simmons’ 94-yard return.

  • The closest the Gators came to a loss in the streak came in 1993. Danny Wuerffel hit Chris Doering for a 28-yard touchdown with three seconds remaining. That was the second of five touchdown catches Doering had against Kentucky in his career.

  • The easiest victory came in 1996. The Gators won 65-0. The Wildcats went 0-for-16 on third down.

  • Only once in the 25 games has UF’s margin of victory been by a field goal or less (24-21 in 2003).