A pair of undefeated Southeastern Conference teams square off when No. 9 Florida visits Kentucky on Saturday night. The Gators come in at 2-0 after topping Miami and Tennessee-Martin in their first two contests, while the Wildcats have taken care of Toledo and Eastern Michigan in their first two games of the season.
Kentucky snapped a 31-game losing streak to the Gators last season and is now looking for its first winning streak in the long rivalry since 1976-77. Florida knows all about the Wildcats’ historic win last season and is set on proving it was a fluke and starting a new winning streak against their conference rival.
The moneyline for this game has the Florida Gators -360 and the Kentucky Wildcats +290. Florida is favored by 9.5 points on the road, with the over/under for the contest set at 46.
Feleipe Franks has started his season very strong, passing for 524 yards and four touchdowns while connecting on 42 of his 54 pass attempts thus far. Unfortunately, two of those non-completions ended up in interceptions. Franks has had to be good through the air because the Gators’ ground game hasn’t had much traction so far this season, managing a total of 281 yards. Lamical Perine is the team’s leading rusher with just 93 yards on 20 attempts.
Defensively, Florida has been all over its opposition, recording 15 sacks by 14 players. Jabari Zuniga leads the way with an SEC-high three as well as 4.5 tackles for loss, while Ventrell Miller has added two. The Gators have also excelled on third down, holding opponents to just 25.9 percent conversion rate, which is tied for 20th in the country.
On The Ground
Kentucky has scored 38 points in each of its first two games, but the Wildcats are going to be without starting quarterback Terry Wilson, who was lost for the season after suffering a left knee injury in last week’s win. Coach Mark Stoops used the end of the blowout to try to get backup quarterback Sawyer Smith as many passing reps as he could in anticipation of Smith taking over the starting position. Smith was 5-2 as a starter at Troy last season, passing for 1,669 yards and 14 touchdowns before transferring to Kentucky.
While Smith completed 5 of 9 passes for 76 yards and two touchdowns in the game, the outcome was already decided thanks to the Kentucky ground game. The Wildcats averaged 6.1 yards per carry in racking up 239 yards on the ground, something they’ll likely need to do against Florida. The Kentucky pass defense is going to have to be better against the Gators after giving up 251.5 yards per contest through the air so far this season.
Florida Wins Shootout
Florida has some revenge on its mind and will be taking on a Kentucky team in transition at quarterback. Look for Franks to put up some big numbers against the Wildcats’ secondary, while the Gators’ defense will keep the Wildcats’ ground attack in check. I’m taking Florida -9.5 to win.