I can't say I've witnessed all of the 30-straight losses the Kentucky Wildcats have taken to the Florida Gators in football. Being alive for 20 of them, though, has been enough for me. For the 21st matchup of my lifetime, I'm predicting Kentucky rises up and defends their home turf, 24-20.
Kentucky played stellar last week against a team who some thought was a top-3 SEC team as they reached their first 3-0 start under Mark Stoops. Florida was any average Joe's hail-mary defense away from possibly being 0-2.
The Wildcats were given just over an 18% chance to win at South Carolina, via ESPN's Power Index. They were +5.5 underdogs yet went into Columbia with a pass rush that looked like two of Von Miller and two of Aaron Donald.
Yes, Florida has Tyrie Cleveland. He emerged as a Deboe Samuel-like threat in their win over UT. But did you see what Kentucky did to Deboe Samuel? Take out his one catch on the first play of the game that went for a 68-yard touchdown and the Wildcats secondary held him to just four catches and 54 yards.
Kentucky has the advantage at too many positions. Their third-ranked rush defense will force Florida to throw the ball more than they're comfortable with on the road. Stoops, a former defensive backs coach, will use that to his advantage. Florida's defense is also very talented but to Benny Snell Jr. they will just be a bump in the road.
The Gators are also a slim road favorite. However, don't be surprised if Kentucky pulls out the upset vs. the 20th best team in the country.
Florida Gators (1-1, 1-0 in SEC) at Kentucky Wildcats (3-0, 1-0 in SEC)
Date: Saturday, September 23
Game Time: 7:30 p.m.
Location: Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky
TV: If you're not at Kroger Field Saturday night to watch the game, it will be aired live on SEC Network. For DirecTV it's channel 611, AT&T U Verse is channel 607 and Dish is 404.
Announcers: Tom Hart (play-by-play), Jordan Rogers (analyst) and Cole Cubelic (sideline) will have the call.
Radio: you can listen to Tom Leach (play-by-play), Jeff Piecoro (analyst) and Dick Gabriel (sideline) call the action on the UK radio network or online at UKAthletics.com.
Online Stream: WatchESPN.
Odds: Florida opened as a 4-point favorite. The line has trended between 1.5 and 3 points leading up to gameday.
Predictions: ESPN's Power Index gives Florida the slight edge over Kentucky with a 57.1% to 42.9% chance of winning. Sportsline projects a final score of Kentucky 20, Florida 18.
Check back at ASeaOfBlue.com for more information about Saturday's elite matchup as well as @MonJorgan's twitter feed for live updates throughout the game.