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Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Preview and Prediction


Here are some things that were happening in America the last time Kentucky beat Florida: Gas was around 89 cents a gallon. The best thing on TV was "The Cosby Show." The biggest film of the year was "Top Gun." Ronald Reagan was president. And these people were born: Megan Fox, Shia LaBeouf, Lady Gaga and Lindsay Lohan.

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So, it's been awhile. 

The Gators have won 28 straight in the series, but there are at least a handful of people who think this is the year it comes to an end. Kentucky is coming off an emotional road win at South Carolina, 26-22, and also beat a pretty solid Louisiana-Lafayette team in Week 1. The Wildcats running game is clicking early and quarterback Patrick Towles hasn't looked bad either. 

Florida is 2-0, but we still don't know much about them. They were tested at home by an average-looking East Carolina team, so there is some concern. Yet, the Gators scoring attack looks phenomenal in comparison to last year's "offense." While splitting duty, Treon Harris and Will Grier have each completed over 70 percent of their passes. 

Saturday marks the 66th meeting between Kentucky and Florida. The Gators not only have won 28 straight, but they have dominated the series overall, 48-17. But the big question here is how will new head coach Jim McElwain's team look on the road against a rising division opponent?

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Florida at Kentucky

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. ET (Saturday)

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TV Channel: SEC Network

Spread: Florida -3.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Can Florida establish the run?

The Gators passing attack is clearly improved, but they haven't been able to get much going in the running game, at least against a decent opponent. East Carolina held the Gators to just 168 yards rushing last week, which could be a telling sign that the Gators will struggle in that department against the SEC. The worst part is that Florida did everything it could last week to run the ball, rushing 38 times, only to net 4.4 yards per carry. The good news for Florida is that Kentucky's front seven has been gashed more than once this season. 

2. Florida's revamped passing attack vs. Kentucky's lacking secondary

Treon Harris and Will Grier look like a couple guys who don't want to give up playing time. Neither has emerged as the front-runner for the quarterback job, but so far, a two-quarterback system is working pretty well. Harris and Grier appear to be making each other better through competition. Florida has a weapon on the outside who has proven to be electrifying at times, especially against Kentucky. In last year's triple overtime win, Gators wide receiver Demarcus Robinson caught 15 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns. Not bad. 

3. Stanley "Boom" Williams

Kentucky's defense doesn't have much to brag about at this point, but offensively, the 'Cats are clicking in the running game. Jojo Kemp has rushed for 112 yards behind a big offensive line, known for its prowess in run blocking. But the real story is Williams, who is clearly Kentucky's biggest playmaker. On the season, Williams has already accumulated 242 yards on the ground. He is also pretty effective in catching passes out of the backfield and his speed is elite. Florida is stout up front, but Kentucky may have an advantage when it comes to the running back position. 

Final Analysis

It's difficult to imagine the despair Kentucky fans have had to endure over the past 28 years of playing the Gators. Regardless of the team's involved, for any program to completely dominate another for nearly three decades is impressive. Kentucky has some offensive playmakers, sure, but we've heard this story before. Their defense is not equipped to slow down Florida's offense. McElwain was a significant upgrade on that side of the ball and it will show this week. The 'Cats will score, but Florida also has an advantage on the defensive side. Basically, Kentucky's roster just isn't there yet. They'll give Florida a fight, but the Gators come out of it 3-0.

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Prediction: Florida 38, Kentucky 33

— Written by Cody McClure, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a radio host and lead SEC Writer for Three Point Stance Magazine. Follow him on Twitter @CodyMcClureCFB.