Mark Stoops breaks Bear Bryant’s record in classic Stoops fashion – UK Athletics

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On Saturday at Florida Field, or “The Swamp,” Kentucky faced a situation it had faced many times before. The Cats found themselves in the playoffs against 12th-ranked Florida, trailing by just three at the half.

But over the years, Kentucky fans have seen their team go head-to-head against top-tier competition, lose, sometimes in heartbreaking fashion.

News flash – this is not the same old Kentucky. Instead of seeing the top-ranked Gators pull away in the second half, it was the Cats who made big play after big play in the second 30 minutes, outscoring Florida 26-16.

The Cats won in the Swamp for the second time in three visits. The Cats beat Florida in back-to-back games for the first time in 45 years (1976 and 77).

Why is it important? Well, it wasn’t that long ago that Florida had a 31-game winning streak against Kentucky. Not just in Gainesville, but in general. That’s right, 31 straight times Kentucky and Florida have met and 31 straight times the Lords have won.

But that was before Mark Stoops arrived in Lexington. Stoops’ 61st win as a UK head coach shows just how far the UK head coach has come in his 10-year career, breaking the school record held by Kentucky-Florida Hall of Famer Paul “Bear” Bryant. Lexington

(In case you’re wondering – yes, that Paul “Bear” Bryant).

Before Stoops came along, Kentucky, frankly, wasn’t on Florida’s level. While the Gators won Southeastern Conference and national championships, Kentucky struggled at times to just a .500 record.

Stops does not focus on individual achievements. But after the game, he told ESPN’s Katie George what passing Bryant meant to him.

“Lucky,” Stoops said. “Many great players, coaches have spent time here. I have nothing but respect and admiration for your perseverance in this difficult conference.

Stoops was methodical in building Kentucky’s program. Hired. He developed skills. It has built a culture. He, the coaches and the players worked really hard.

Saturday’s victory was right on the line for Stoops. It was a defensive struggle for most of the night and Stoops saw the defense make the two plays that clinched the win.

With the Cats trailing 16-7 in the first half, Jordan Wright intercepted Florida quarterback Anthony Richardson and returned the ball to Florida State. The Cats got a Will Lewis touchdown to go into the half 16-13.

Then, with the game tied at 16-16, UK’s Kaidron Smith intercepted Richardson and returned it 65 yards to give UK the lead for good.

Stoops began his UK career by going 12-24 in three seasons. Since then, he has won 49 games with just 29 losses. And it all led to Saturday’s moment when Stoops set the record for most wins in Kentucky football history.

But Stoops being Stoops, he’ll be back at work tomorrow, focusing on Youngstown State. That’s how he built this program and a legend passed away tonight in Gainesville.



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