Kentucky Wildcats vs. Florida Gators
Game Time: 7:30 pm EST on Saturday, Sept. 8.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
TV Info: Tom Hart, Jordan Rodgers and Cole Cubelic will be on the call for the SEC Network.
Radio: Tom Leach, Jeff Piecoro and Dick Gabriel will have the radio call on the UK Sports Network.
Live Online Stream: You can stream the game online using WatchESPN.
Replay: SEC Network (check local listings) and ESPN+
Series: Florida leads the all-time series 51-17, including a 28-4 mark in Gainesville.
Odds: Florida is favored by 13.5 as of Saturday morning.
Prediction: OddsShark projects a 30-18 Florida win. I’m going with a 27-20 Florida win. Be sure to check out all of our staff predictions here.
Florida Ties: Kentucky has 19 players from the state of Florida: Chris Westry, Derrick Baity, Michael Nesbitt, Bryce Oliver, Jordan Wright, Josh Ali, Sebastien Dolcine, Akeem Hayes, Chris Whittaker, Nick Lewis, Abule Abadi-Fitzgerald, Davoan Hawkins, Clevan Thomas, B.J. Alexander, Cedrick Dort, Stanley Garner, Ashtan Pierre, Kenneth Horsey and Jamari Brown.
Mark Stoops spent six seasons as an assistant coach in Florida, including three years each with Miami and Florida State before becoming head coach at Kentucky in 2013.
While we wait for the game, here is Kentucky’s hype video to get you fired up for tonight’s matchup:
Is this the year ‘The Streak’ ends?
The Kentucky Wildcats sure hope so, as they’re the road to face the No. 25 Florida Gators, in search of a win over their SEC East rival for the first time since 1986.
That last win over Florida was a 10-3 victory in Lexington, but since then, 31 Florida wins have taken place. Lately, they’ve been in the most frustrating way possible.
Three of the last four matchups have been decided by six points or less, with one going to three overtimes before Florida escaped at home. After a defensive struggle saw Florida win the 2015 clash, 14-9, last year’s matchup in Lexington came down to the final play in regulation, as Florida stole a 28-27 win that Kentucky was easily the better team in.
Florida, who has won 13 consecutive SEC openers, is coming off win No. 1 of the Dan Mullen era, a 53-6 victory over Charleston Southern. Feleipe Franks threw five passing touchdowns in the first half, one of only four Gators to ever throw five scores in a half.
One of the biggest strengths of this Gators team is their pass defense. Florida’s 14 interceptions last season were tied for second among SEC teams, and its 1.27 interceptions per game ranked 19th nationally.
In Week 1, Florida’s defense held Charleston Southern to three passing yards — the lowest total in the nation for Week 1 and Florida’s second-lowest opponent passing total since 1996.
The Gators only surrendered one first down in the opening half (and only four through three quarters) against Charleston Southern. Of the 92 total yards Charleston Southern had by halftime (and 139 total yards through three quarters), 70 of them came on a single rush.
The nine first downs Florida allowed to Charleston Southern were tied for the sixth-fewest first downs allowed by an FBS team in Week 1.
That domination has Florida at or near the top of several national rankings entering Week 2, including:
- 1st in Passing Defense (3.0 ypg)
- 1st in Red-Zone Offense (100.0%)
- 1st in Red-Zone Defense (0.0%)
- 1st in Kicks/Punts Blocked (2)
- 2nd in Passing Defense (20.33 ypg)
- 6th in First Downs Allowed (9)
- 8th in Scoring Defense (6.0)
- 8th in Turnover Margin (3.0)
- 13th in Passing Efficiency (206.46 ypg)
- 17th in Total Defense (225.0 ypg)
- 18th in 3rd-Down Defense (21.4%)
- 20th in Scoring Offense (53.0)
The Gators feature a veteran-heavy team, 20 returning starters (10 offense, 9 defense and 1 specialist) from 2017, which is tied for third-most among FBS teams.
Three of the past four meetings have been decided by six points or less. The Wildcats fell by one point last season in Lexington, 28-7, in triple overtime in 2014, 36-30, and lost 14-9 in Lexington in 2015. Needless to say, Kentucky has come painfully close to ending the streak recently, but for one reason or another, have been unable to make the one game-winning play they needed.
A win Saturday would give UK its first win over a top-25 ranked team in the AP poll since defeating No. 11 Louisville on the road in 2016. It would also give UK its first win over a ranked Florida team for the first time since upsetting the 15th-ranked Gators 28-9 in 1976 in Lexington. This also would be one of the true program-shifting wins of the Mark Stoops era.
Will this be the year Kentucky ends the dreaded streak?
We’ll find out tonight in The Swamp.
What is your prediction for tonight’s game?