Thursday September 20, 2012The Weekly List: Great Gators Streaks
The Wide-Tackle 6.
Maybe to some grizzled Gators out there, it does. That was the defense Kentucky ran for eight seasons under Coach Jerry Claiborne in the 1980s and the one that gave Florida fits in an ugly 10-3 loss at Lexington that marked the last time the Wildcats defeated the Gators in football.
In 1987, UF beat UK 27-14 to kick off a run of 25 straight victories in the series, a streak that ranks as the second-longest in the nation -- Penn State has beaten Temple 29 straight since 1952, recently vacated wins notwithstanding -- and the longest of any series between two opponents that play annually.
The 14th-ranked Gators (3-0, 2-0) welcome the Wildcats (1-2, 0-1) to town on Saturday with a chance to make it 26 straight. It's a lengthy run, but hardly the most impressive streak in UF football history. Not when you talk about four straight SEC titles (1993-96). Or 25 straight conference wins (1994-97). Or 30 straight home victories (1994-99). Or 22 consecutive wins (2008-09). Or the current string of 299 games, dating to 1988, without being shut out.
So in the spirit of streaks, our "Weekly List" focuses on other lengthy streaks from other teams or athletes at UF. Here's our 10:
No. 1 = 18
That's how many consecutive postseason games the UF men's basketball team won during the 2006-07 seasons. That included the second and third of three straight SEC Tournament titles, plus those 12 consecutive victories in NCAA Tournament play that made the Gators one of only three teams in the last half-century to repeat as NCAA champions. Not even Duke, during back-to-back titles of '91-92, won its conference tournament both years. Those 12 straight NCAA wins, courtesy of Joakim Noah and friends (pictured above), ranks as the third-most in tournament history behind UCLA (38 from 1964-74) and Duke (13 from '91-93).
2 = 44
Quite simply, she was the most dominant individual athlete in Gators history. Lisa Raymond (below) came to Florida from Pennsylvania and not only led UF to its first NCAA women's team tennis title, she rampaged the collegiate field by storming to two straight singles titles -- capturing 44 consecutive matches -- to which she said, "I'm good," and turned pro. She's still competing on the WTA doubles circuit, by the way, at age 39.
3 = 107
We're still on the tennis courts with this one, which come as no surprise considering the UF women have captured six national championships, more than any Florida program, and all of them since 1992. Along the way, Coach Roland Thornqvist's ladies have won 107 straight home matches, one of the reasons the Gators have claimed back-to-back NCAA crowns. The 107 figure is the second-longest active home win streak for any Division-I collegiate sport, trailing only Ohio State's 143 straight men's tennis victories in Columbus.
4 = 18
Florida volleyball was nothing before Mary Wise arrived in 1991 and all the Gators did under her watch was win 18 straight SEC championships, a streak that included no league losses from Sept. 20, 1995 to Nov. 12, 2004. That's a nine-year run of 145 matches and a number no school in any league has ever touched. Within that remarkable march was a 105-set winning streak, shattering the previous record of 69 sets by Long Beach State.
5 = 50
The women's soccer dynasty Becky Burleigh built in the '90s was practically instantaneous. In the program's third year of existence, UF began a run of 50 straight victories in SEC play, a string that began with a win over LSU in September 1997 and ended with an overtime loss to Tennessee in October 2001. [Note: In between, the Gators won a national championship in '98, by the way.] Those 50 straight were five short of the NCAA record, held by perennial power North Carolina with 55.
6 = 141
In the grand scheme of his incredible career, this was probably far from his greatest achievement -- but we're talking streaks here. Brad Wilkerson (below), the best baseball player in school history, left UF with career records in batting average (.381), home runs (55), RBI (214), runs (239), walks (224), slugging percentage (.714) and on-base percentage (.531), and had some of the clutch pitching performances of a team he led to two College World Series in three seasons. But along the way, Wilkerson reached base safely in 141 consecutive games at one point -- unreal -- part of a 195-game career during which he reached base all but five games.
7 = 12
We'll stick with baseball, but it's the old school kind. Before anyone was counting pitches. Doug Corbett was an All-SEC ace for the Gators staff from 1971-74 and as a senior threw -- get this -- 12 complete games. Corbett went on to play for three teams over eight years as a closer in the majors (Minnesota, California and Baltimore), making the American League All-Star team in 1981 with the Twins.
8 = 4
In just his third season, Tim Walton guided the Florida softball program to the College World Series. Then went back again. And again. And again. Four straight years to Oklahoma City, including advancing twice to the CWS finals, where they lost to Washington in 2009 and to Arizona State in 2011.
9 = 12
The men's golf team has a pretty good streak -- and it's current. Coach Buddy Alexander has guided the Gators to the NCAA Championships now 12 straight years. That's the longest active streak for any golf program in the nation and it also includes the 2001 NCAA team title and a runner-up finish in '06.
10 = 39
The UF women's tennis team has never lost to Tennessee Yes, 39-0 all-time. The Gators also have a 37-0 record against Alabama and a 34-0 record against Auburn.
So the football team still has some work to do with Kentucky.