clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Florida Gators vs Kentucky Wildcats: 5 keys to victory, odds, expert picks, analysis, predictions

Kentucky is viewed as a slight underdog by oddsmakers, but plenty of experts are picking the Cats to end the streak.

Florida v Kentucky Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

It's Football time in the Bluuuuuuegrasssss!

It's that time of the week again; it's time for Kentucky Football. This time, there is just a lot more at stake.

The Cats are taking on the Gators of Florida this Saturday night at 7:30 at the beautiful Kroger Field. The Cats are currently a 2.5-point underdog, but when the original line started at 4, that's not bad.

Florida has won every matchup against the Cats in the past 30 years... yes, I said that right, the last 30 years!! If there is a chance Kentucky can upset the Gators, here is five ways they can do just that:

1. Win on 1st down

The Florida linebackers are very good, and they are very tricky with their Blitz packages. Florida consistently has several defensive players that get drafted, and this season is the same story with players like Marco Wilson, who is only a freshman, who had seven tackles last weekend against Tennessee and sophomore linebacker, David Reese, who had six tackles against Tennessee last weekend and one interception.

The Cats have had a pretty good offensive game thus far, averaging over 24 points per game and over 347 yards. If the Cats are going to keep rolling against the 14th worst defense in the SEC, then they need to control those good defensive players.

2. Get the run game going

The Cats are averaging 151.6 yards-per-game against opponents this season on the ground.

That stat is in most part because of the Offensive line blocking very well for Benny Snell who is averaging just over 90 yards-per-game himself. Snell has also racked up three rushing touchdowns to go along with his 272 yards of rushing on the season. Florida also has a top-3 defensive backfield in the SEC, so Kentucky needs to be sure to step it up with the run game to be successful this week.

3. Win every field position battle

Florida has one of the best punters in the entire country, Johnny Townsend who is averaging 50.2 yards-per-punt this season.

If Florida can get to the 40-yard line, you can expect for Kentucky to be starting at the 10-yard line, or even less. Townsend has also had over 50 points in his career inside the 20 yard line for the Gators.

4. Lockdown Kadarius Toney

The former talented quarterback, now receiver had his coming out party against the Vols in Knoxville last weekend. Toney had four catches for 40 yards last week. Even though that was 3rd on the team, it was a huge bright spot to the coaching staff at Florida, and I definitely can see him getting the ball more this weekend.

The Cats have had a very good defensive back group for the past three years, and if there is ever a game to step-up and play big, this would be that game.

5. Stephen Johnson needs to do Stephen Johnson things

The senior quarterback has now become one of Kentucky's most beloved quarterbacks. Johnson is now 15th all-time in program history in passing, and he's trying to keep that number going up.

Johnson has started out the year amazing! Going 42 of 67 passing for 569 yards and two touchdowns. Johnson has a huge game last weekend on the ground as well, especially when he had a run of 54 yards for the Cats and helped his team seal the big SEC road win. If the Cats are going to win a big one this weekend, Stephen Johnson has to keep doing his Stephen Johnson things.

The Wildcats have lost the last 30 games against the Gators... yes, I know I said that, but I just want to make that clear.

This weekend, every eye will be on the Commonwealth and most of which want the Cats to get smoked and keep that streak for Florida alive.

I truly believe the Cats can get a big win this weekend and end the streak with the Gators.

Overall, Florida has been massively bet against, with a ton of money going towards Kentucky. The spread opened up at 4 points in favor of Florida beating Kentucky, as of now (10:02 p.m. ET Thursday night) the line is Florida favored by only 2 points.

So... What are the experts saying about this game?

USA Today:

Kentucky: 3. Florida: 3

George Schroeder, Jace Evans and Dan Wolken all picking UK to upset the Gators.

Schroeder said, "Nov. 15, 1986. That’s the last time Kentucky beat Florida in football. But on Saturday in Lexington, a 30-game losing streak ends as Kentucky finally gets the Gators."

Sam Khan Jr. and Alex Scarborough, both picked Kentucky to win this weekend.

Scarborough says, " I think I needed to visit the eye doctor after that game, Sam. It was that hard to watch at times. Those were two of the worst offenses I’ve seen in a long time. The execution was terrible, and I still can’t understand why both coordinators didn’t just get the ball into their playmakers’ hands. Tennessee should be feeding John Kelly and Marquez Callaway way more than they do. The same goes for Florida and Kadarius Toney."

While Khan said, "I’m impressed with what the Wildcats did last week to South Carolina. The Gators pulled out a dramatic win over Tennessee, but I’m still not impressed with them at this point. I’m taking Kentucky. You saw the Gators up close and personal last week. What do you think?"

Scarborough also said, "I’m with you. I like Kentucky to break the streak. I just don’t trust Feleipe Franks at this point in his career to read the defense, and we all know that Mark Stoops knows how to call a good defense. I think it will be a close, low-scoring game that Benny Snell ends up deciding late."

CBS Sports had three expert picks going Kentucky's way: Barton Simpson, Chip Patterson and Dennis Dodd.

Jerry Palm, Tom Fornelli, Barrett Sallee and Ben Kercheval all picked Florida to head back to Gainesville with a W.

Sallee says, "Florida has 30 straight wins over Kentucky, and that streak won’t be broken Saturday night in Lexington. The Gator front four was strong Saturday afternoon against Tennessee, routinely making its way into the Volunteers’ backfield to disrupt plays. Sure, sometimes John Kelly worked magic and something out of nothing, but not enough to get the Vols the win. Cece Jefferson, Jachai Polite and the rest of that crew will live in the Wildcats backfield, forcerunning back Benny Snell and quarterback Stephen Johnson To make quick decisions and dictate the style of the game. Offensively, Feleipe Franks will get a little bit more of the playbook, which will be enough to lead Florida to a very ugly, one-score win. Pick: Gators: (-3)"

My Prediction:

Kentucky 21. Florida. 20. Austin MacGinnis is going to win it for the Cats on a field goal.

Have fun, and enjoy some beautiful football weather!