Kentucky heads to Gainesville hoping to get their season back on track. The Wildcats did not anticipate going into their fourth game, after three non-conference games, with a losing record. A perfect record would have been ideal, but a 2-1 record was, at least, expected. After a heart-breaking, overtime loss to Western Kentucky, the Wildcats are in desperation mode as they venture into the SEC portion of their schedule. The bad news is they face a Florida team they haven’t beaten in 26 years. If Kentucky is able to take down the long streak, it would not only re-energize the team, but also, a seemingly “lost” fan base. It’s very hard to find positives in an 1-2 record, but there are some for the Wildcats. First, they lead the SEC in passing offense, and are 13th overall in the country. Those statistics say a lot about the development of QB Maxwell Smith, and the type of player he could develop into. On the flip side, Florida ranks bottom five in SEC passing defense.
How Kentucky wins: – Control the clock. If Kentucky is able to get a lead early in the game, it will force the Gators out of their comfort state of running the football. Florida leads the SEC in time of possession, by a large margin, because they control the game on the ground. The Wildcats would need to put the game on the arm of QB Jeff Driskel, who only has 52 attempts in his first three games.
-Win the turnover battle. Florida has not thrown an interception this season, largely because they keep the ball out of the air. They will, however, fumble it. The Gators have fumbled the football four times this season, but have only lost one of them. The Wildcats have to take advantage of turnover opportunities if they expect to beat a good team like the Gators.
-Stop the run. Florida’s offensive identity is to rush the football and, as we’ve seen in the first three games, Kentucky has a problem stopping it. Throughout the week, both coaches and players think the rush defense will be better going forward. It’s time to prove it on Saturday. Florida averages almost 240 yards/game on the ground, and are licking their chops to get to the struggling Wildcats. It’s got to be stopped, or this game will be over fast.
How Florida wins: The deficiencies Kentucky has shown in run defense cannot be corrected in one week. Florida knows that, and will continue to exploit the Wildcats from their opening offensive snap. If Kentucky’s offense flutters early, it could get ugly… fast.
Prediction: It’s as simple as this. If Kentucky stops the run, they’ll have a chance. If not, it’ll be a long afternoon. They haven’t shown they can stop it against teams less talented than the Gators, so why should I believe things will be different? Florida 45, Kentucky 20