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(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

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Scoreboard
Local
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
TOR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
UCONN
 
Final
CLE 98
ATL 127
Final
CHA 106
PHO 111
Final
DET 106
DAL 117
Final
BOS 109
ORL 92
Final
MIA 87
UTA 105
Final
TOR 105
BRK 89
Final
SAN 116
MEM 117
Final
POR 104
MIL 97
Final
DEN 111
HOU 115
Final
LAC 102
IND 100
8:00pm Tonight
CHI
NYK
 
8:30pm Tonight
HOU
NOP
 
10:00pm Tonight
SAC
MIL
 
10:30pm Tonight
GSW
OKC
 
Final
UNT 78
LANG 65
 
Final
Terriers 64
DELST 72
 
Final
MSST 55
ARKST 69
Final
NCCU 108
BASC 52
 
Final
GMAS 99
CATAWBA 69
 
Final
WOFF 64
CSOU 58
 
Final
HIGH 106
FERR 48
 
Final
JVU 68
GWEBB 65
 
Final
ILL 73
HAMP 55
 
Final
BST 52
JMU 72
 
Final
YOUNG 84
KNST 90
 
Final
UMO 71
LONG 60
 
Final
PITT 65
MAN 56
Final
OSU 97
NCAT 55
Final
FSU 93
UNF 77
 
Final
TOL 83
RMU 57
 
Final
CAMP 70
SIUE 65
 
Final
DUQ 52
RFLSH 67
 
Final
NCSU 83
TENN 72
Final
UCF 75
DET 70
Final
UNCW 73
LIB 70
 
Final
LOYC 83
ABCHRIST 44
 
Final
MURST 94
ALCOR 56
 
Final
HOU 56
ARKPB 61
 
Final
NW 67
CMICH 80
Final
WKENT 75
CHIST 60
 
Final
ODU 58
UGST 54
Final
SMU 67
ILLCH 46
Final
LALAF 115
MLGN 76
 
Final
TULSA 74
MIZST 70
Final
UWGB 66
MORE 50
 
Final
NEOM 92
NCOL 82
 
Final
TTU 101
SCST 39
 
Final
DEN 83
TAMCC 73
 
Final
STEPH 66
TXST 60
 
Final
STLU 75
TXPA 69
 
Final
MEM 83
USCU 73
 
Final
ILLST 64
TENNM 54
 
Final
MSU 66
EMICH 46
Final
GRCN 80
INCWORD 82
 
Final
STAN 67
LMU 58
Final
BAY 66
NMST 55
 
Final
CIN 71
SDST 62
Final
AUB 80
WINT 62
 
Final
NMU 76
CARK 55
 
Final
PEPP 53
HOW 45
 
Final
CPSL 60
NE 58
 
Final
UNLV 75
PORT 73
Final
OREG 79
CSNO 56
Final
WASH 86
GRAM 38
12:30pm Today
RICE
STTHOMASTX
 
7:00pm Tonight
UVA
CLST
 
7:00pm Tonight
LIU
FIU
 
7:00pm Tonight
STET
GSOUT
 
7:00pm Tonight
QUIN
LEH
 
7:00pm Tonight
SFLA
SHU
 
7:00pm Tonight
RICH
SALA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAN
USB
 
7:00pm Tonight
DEL
TEMPL
 
7:00pm Tonight
WCU
WRST
 
7:00pm Tonight
VERM
YALE
 
7:30pm Tonight
SDKST
IDST
 
7:30pm Tonight
RIDE
MRGST
 
7:30pm Tonight
LATU
NICST
 
8:00pm Tonight
CHAR
APP
 
8:00pm Tonight
MISS
CCAR
 
8:00pm Tonight
DUKE
UCONN
 
8:00pm Tonight
BRAD
EUREK
 
8:00pm Tonight
PEAY
OAKC
 
8:00pm Tonight
JST
SMISS
 
8:30pm Tonight
SD
MNTST
 
9:00pm Tonight
UAB
LSU
 
9:05pm Tonight
EVAN
OHIO
 
10:00pm Tonight
CSFU
CSDH
 
10:00pm Tonight
ORST
DEP
 
10:00pm Tonight
PAC
NEV
 
10:00pm Tonight
USF
PORST
 
10:00pm Tonight
IDAHO
WALLA
 
10:05pm Tonight
UTST
CALST
 
Final
NJD 0
OTT 2
Final
MIN 2
BOS 3
Final
VAN 0
DAL 2
7:00pm Tonight
PIT
COL
 
7:00pm Tonight
PHI
FLA
 
7:00pm Tonight
CAR
TOR
 
7:00pm Tonight
CLB
WAS
 
7:30pm Tonight
MON
ANA
 
10:30pm Tonight
SJS
EDM
 
10:30pm Tonight
LOS
STL
 
8:25pm Tonight
JAC
TEN