Tens of thousands of scarlet and black clad South Carolina fans unwillingly were treated to a rare sight on Saturday night, the Kentucky Wildcats in the victory formation on the road.
One quick knee by Patrick Towles ended a 22 road game losing streak that stretched all the way back the days of when Randall Cobb was still wearing the blue and white.
The post locker room celebration and the sheer joy expressed by the Big Blue Nation on social media showed just how much ending the streak meant to the team and the fan base combined.
This week the Wildcats have a chance to end another streak, a 28 year winless drought against the Florida Gators.
Kentucky’s struggles against the Gators are very well documented.
Over the last three decades Florida has either beaten Kentucky mercilessly or won in ways that have shattered the collective hearts of Cats fans everywhere.
During the dark days of the Billy Curry era Steve Spurrier regularly ran up the score on hapless Kentucky teams, including a memorable 65-0 drubbing in 1996. In fact, the Gators beat Kentucky by at least two touchdowns in all games but one during the 1990s.
Even worse are the numerous blown chances to beat the Gators during the next two decades. The memories are a verifiable hall of pain. Jared Lorenzen’s ill-advised throw into double coverage in 2003. The 2007 team’s inability to stop Tim Tebow and last season’s blown delay of game call.
Symbolically, the game against the Gators is the annual reminder that Kentucky has a long way to go to be able to compete in the SEC.
The attitude of many Florida fans towards Kentucky is largely symbolic as well. They could care less about the Kentucky game and think it is an automatic win, just like most of the conference does.
A victory over Florida Saturday would mean so much to the fans and the program.
For the Big Blue Nation, a win would exorcise the demons of so many close calls and taunts from arrogant Gator fans.
For the players this game is a chance to right a wrong and win a game that was taken from them by bad officiating.
For Mark Stoops and his staff this game has the potential to add another notch to their growing reputation within Wildcat lore.
For the program as a whole the game is a chance to make a statement to the rest of the conference that the “old” Kentucky is dead and the program is worthy of respect instead of indifference or pity.
Its sufficient to say that beating the Gators on Saturday would be one of the top five win in program history and the signature victory of Mark Stoops tenure.
A loss would not be devastating to Kentucky’s season but it would be a missed opportunity to remove the last shred of doubt in the back of many fan’s minds that UK football can be a winner.
The stage is set for a rowdy scene at Commonwealth Stadium Saturday night. Now the vast sea of blue across the state must wait and see if the broken record will finally stop playing.