Even the most optimistic Kentucky Wildcats fan went into Saturday’s match-up with #1 Alabama with throttled expectations.
The monster 31 point spread said about all that needed to be said about the Cats’ chances to win the game in Tuscaloosa. Then there was the depleted roster due to COVID protocol that made the task even taller.
Despite all that there was still hope that some positive takeaways could be gained, even if victory was out of reach.
Ultimately the demoralizing 63-3 loss made it difficult to spin as anything but that, demoralizing. Now dozens of questions linger moving forward but the most important thing for Mark Stoops and his staff is getting healthy.
There’s no shame in losing to one of Nick Saban’s best teams in memory when you’re down the players, including Chris Rodriguez, but it’s clear that this Kentucky team isn’t what fans expected in the pre-season.
Things won’t get much easier for the Cats this weekend when they travel to Gainesville for a bout with the 6-1 Gators.
The game will kick-off at noon on ESPN live from the Swamp.
Kentucky’s defense will trade the wrath of Alabama’s Mac Jones for the current top Heisman contender — Florida’s Kyle Trask.
Trask has been torching the SEC all season long to the tune of over 2500 yards, 31 TDs and just three picks. His play has been nothing short of incredible and the stat sheet reflects it.
The senior quarterback was upgraded to the Heisman favorite after throwing for nearly 400 yards and three touchdowns on Saturday against Vanderbilt.
Trask is responsible for engineering a Gator offense that’s averaging 45 points and 522 yards per offense a game.
I know, it almost doesn’t even seem fair after what Brad White had to deal with trying to defend the against Crimson Tide. Both games on the road nonetheless.
To put things simply — the Wildcat defense needs to shake off the last game and play at a high-level if UK is to even have a chance against Florida. Obviously getting back to full strength will be critical but at this point it’s unclear just who will be available to travel.
Defensively, Dan Mullen’s team has shown vulnerability. The Gators have allowed 24 points or more in five of their seven games. They surrender over 400 yards on average.
Assuming UK’s back-field has all of it’s weapons they may be able to penetrate a defense who’s had ten touchdowns scored on them via the ground game this season.
On Saturday the Commodores threw the ball all over UF totaling 400 total yards of offense, 319 of those through the air.
But to throw the ball — you need a reliable option under center. Kentucky fans know all too well that major questions still surround the quarterback situation and the offense as a unit.
The debate as to who should be taking the snaps for Kentucky has only intensified as their struggles have mounted. Terry Wilson and crew looked sharped in fourth quarter against Alabama. If that unit can add the reliability of Chris Rodriguez in Gainesville it may be the Cats’ best chance at success.
Nobody said playing ten SEC games would be easy but going from Alabama to Florida is just brutal.
Location: Ben Hill-Griffin Stadium
Date: Saturday November 28th
Start Time: 12 pm EST
TV Channel: ESPN
Radio: UK Sports Network.
Odds: Florida opened as a 23-point favorite.
Early Prediction: TeamRankings projects a 44-20 victory for Florida. NumberFire is a bit more generous to the Cats predicting a 35-14 win for the Gators.