College Football

more stats

24
Final 1234Score
Florida7140324
Kentucky70007
Preview | Matchup | Log | Wrap | Box
7


(20) Florida (2-1) at Kentucky (1-2)



Saturday, September 28, 7 p.m. (et)

The Sports Network

By Nicholas DeLorenzo, Associate College Football Editor

GAME NOTES: The 20th-ranked Florida Gators will try to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats for the 27th consecutive time on Saturday night when the SEC East Division foes square off at Commonwealth Stadium.

After a 21-16 loss at Miami-Florida on Sept. 7 caused a dip in the rankings, Florida bounced back with a 31-17 triumph over league rival Tennessee in a game in which its defense forced six turnovers. It wasn't all good news for the Gators, however, as they lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel for the season with a broken tibia.

"Very disappointed for Jeff," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said. "That's part of the game, but it's very difficult to deal with. I'm really hurt for him and his family, and for us as a football team."

"That's part of the deal -- man down, man up -- and our guys understand that," he continued. "They understand that when their number is called they have to prepare themselves the right way and I think we've done that for the most part."

Kentucky lost its opener on the road against Western Kentucky, 35-26, before earning head coach Mark Stoops his first win on Sept. 7 over Miami-Ohio (41-7). The Wildcats fought hard against nationally-ranked Louisville at home on Sept. 14, but fell in a 27-13 final, and they used their bye week to prepare for Florida.

"(I'm) very familiar with Florida having played them the past three years and knowing quite a few players on their team," said Stoops, who faced the Gators as a defensive coach with Florida State from 2010-12. "Very good team, very well coached in all phases of the game, very physical team. So we have a real challenge ahead of us this week."

With regard to the all-time series, the Gators hold a convincing 46-17 edge over the Wildcats. The incredible run for Florida against Kentucky, which dates back to 1986, is the longest active winning streak over a major opponent in an annual series.

Florida's offense has been the SEC's worst in terms of scoring this season (23.7 ppg), and conventional wisdom says that it will suffer even more without its starting quarterback, but backup QB Tyler Murphy has a similar skill set as Driskel, so there shouldn't be much of a learning curve for the offense.

In relief duty against Tennessee, Murphy completed 8-of-14 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown, and he also dazzled with his legs (84 yards, TD). Muschamp is eager to see what the junior can do now that he has the keys to offense.

"(Murphy's) a very popular teammate," Muschamp said. "Tyler is extremely intelligent. He did a fantastic job coming into these circumstances and performing well. (He and Driskel) are very similar guys -- athletic, they can move around and do some different things for us."

The Gators will likely lean more heavily on Mack Brown (227 rushing yards, three TDs) in Driskel's absence, although he is averaging less than four yards per carry.

Soloman Patton (212 yards, two TDs), Trey Burton (160 yards) and Quinton Dunbar (183 yards) gives Murphy three trusty receivers to rely on in the passing game.

While the offense remains a big question, Florida fortunately has one of the nation's top defenses to lean on. The unit surrenders just 14.7 ppg and ranks second in the FBS in total defense (212.3 ypg).

Of the team's six interceptions, Vernon Hargreaves has recorded two to go along with three pass break-ups. Antonio Morrison leads the team in tackles with 13 despite missing a game, while Dante Fowler, Jr. and D.L. Powell each have 4.0 TFL.

The Kentucky offense has seen drastic improvement this year, ranking fifth in the SEC in yardage (490.0 ypg), but moving the ball up and down the field has not translated on to the scoreboard, as the team ranks 13th in the SEC with 26.7 ppg.

Maxwell Smith has been the most effective quarterback for the Wildcats with 544 yards, four touchdown and zero interceptions, but he is listed as questionable with a shoulder injury. Jalen Whitlow will likely see action regardless of Smith's status. He is completing 63.6 percent of his passes for 286 yards with a touchdown and a pick, and he has some impressive rushing stats as well (160 yards, two TDs).

Jojo Kemp has 167 rushing yards on greater than nine yards per carry. He and Raymond Sanders (153 yards, TD) form a solid one-two punch in the backfield.

Although 14 different receivers have caught a pass for the 'Cats, only Javess Blue (15 receptions, 197 yards, TD) has double-digit receptions.

Stoops has implemented a new defensive scheme in his first year at the helm and the results so far have been outstanding, as the Wildcats are allowing just 23.0 ppg while holding teams to a mere 23 percent success on third down.

Avery Williamson (35 tackles) is one of the conference's top linebackers and he has racked up nearly twice as many stops as any of his teammates. Za'Darius Smith, a junior college transfer, has made a name for himself in his first season with 4.5 sacks.

This matchup already had plenty of intrigue with Kentucky looking much improved under Stoops, but the upset alert is even higher now following the injury to Driskel. The Wildcats proved against a high-powered Louisville squad that they can play great defense, especially at home, but Muschamp and the Gators still have the experience and veteran leadership to pull off this tricky road contest.

Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 20, Kentucky 17

09/25 10:34:34 ET

Other Stories

  • ACC: Wake Forest at Duke

    Tonight at 8:00 on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Syracuse at NC State

    Saturday at 12:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • SEC: Florida at Kentucky

    Saturday at 2:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • Pac 12: Stanford at Arizona

    Saturday at 4:00 pm on WRAL-TV

  • ACC: Duke vs. Wake Forest

    Tonight at 8:00 on 620am

  • Big Ten: Wisconsin at Minnesota

    Tomorrow at 7:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NBA: Dallas at Portland

    Tomorrow at 9:30 pm on 99.9 The Fan

  • NHL: Hurricanes vs. Minnesota

    Friday at 8:00 pm on 99.9 The Fan

Scoreboard
Local
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CHA
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
3rd
LOS 0
CWS 1
 
3rd
CLE 1
CIN 2
 
3rd
TEX 1
KAN 6
 
2nd
SFG 0
OAK 3
 
3rd
SEA 1
SDP 0
 
2nd
MIL 0
WMIL 0
 
2nd
COL 0
ARI 0
 
7:05pm Tonight
MIN
UMIN
 
7:00pm Tonight
IND
NYK
7:00pm Tonight
ORL
PHO
7:30pm Tonight
BRK
CHA
7:30pm Tonight
TOR
CLE
7:30pm Tonight
BOS
UTA
8:00pm Tonight
MIN
DEN
8:00pm Tonight
NOP
DET
8:00pm Tonight
MIA
LAL
8:00pm Tonight
HOU
MEM
8:00pm Tonight
OKC
PHI
8:30pm Tonight
SAN
SAC
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
MIL
10:30pm Tonight
LAC
POR
6:00pm Tonight
UNCA
LIB
 
6:00pm Tonight
PSU
OSU
7:00pm Tonight
USB
BING
 
7:00pm Tonight
FORD
DUQ
7:00pm Tonight
GMAS
GWU
7:00pm Tonight
UNH
HART
 
7:00pm Tonight
STJOE
LAS
7:00pm Tonight
Terriers
LIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
GTDNS
MAINE
 
7:00pm Tonight
LOU
ND
7:00pm Tonight
SHU
PROV
7:00pm Tonight
BRY
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
MORE
SEMIZ
7:00pm Tonight
MNTER
RFLSH
 
7:00pm Tonight
LSU
TENN
7:00pm Tonight
SFLA
UCF
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
UMBC
 
7:00pm Tonight
RMU
WAGN
 
7:30pm Tonight
UMASS
RICH
8:00pm Tonight
TULA
HOU
8:00pm Tonight
YALE
HOW
 
8:00pm Tonight
PITT
MIAMI
8:00pm Tonight
TXPA
NMST
 
8:00pm Tonight
MSU
PURD
8:00pm Tonight
STLU
BONA
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
WAKE
9:00pm Tonight
TULSA
CIN
9:00pm Tonight
VANDY
MSST
9:00pm Tonight
EILL
SIUE
9:00pm Tonight
MARQ
STJ
9:00pm Tonight
OKST
TCU
9:00pm Tonight
UCLA
USC
9:00pm Tonight
WYO
UTST
10:00pm Tonight
FRES
AFA
10:00pm Tonight
SJST
BSU
10:00pm Tonight
NEV
COLST
10:00pm Tonight
ILL
NEB
11:00pm Tonight
ORST
OREG
11:00pm Tonight
UNLV
SDST
11:59pm Tonight
HAW
UCSB
 
7:30pm Tonight
WIN
OTT
8:00pm Tonight
DET
NYR
10:00pm Tonight
ANA
MON
10:00pm Tonight
COL
PIT