Undefeated Gators look to maintain dominance of Wildcats
The No. 6 Florida Gators continue to keep rolling as they look to extend their winning streak to five games. Although they trailed until late in the first half last week, they pulled away in their latest win, a 38-17 victory against Vanderbilt in Nashville.
Now the Gators will return home to take on the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday. Kentucky was drubbed by Alabama 63-3 in its last game. Now the Wildcats will look for their fourth win of the 2020 season.
The head-to-head series between Florida and Kentucky has been lopsided on paper as the Gators have won 32 of the last 33 meetings. However, five of the previous six meetings between the two teams have been decided by eight points or less.
Kentucky at No. 6 Florida
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 28 at 12 p.m. ET
Spread: Florida -23.5
When Kentucky Has the Ball
Kentucky couldn't get anything going offensively last week against an Alabama team that is the No. 1 ranked team in the country. After picking up a field goal on their second drive, the Wildcats were shut out the rest of the way. They picked up just 179 total yards and were 2-of-13 on third-down conversions.
The good news is that even though the Gators also rank in the top 10 of the AP Top 25, Florida has been among the worst defensive teams in the country. Florida is giving up 410.6 yards per game and ranks 98th in passing defense by allowing 268.9 yards per game through the air. Florida has also allowed 24 points or more in five of their seven games.
If Terry Wilson can get consistency from his receivers, then the Wildcats will have plenty of opportunities to move the ball against a subpar Gators defense. Josh Ali has been solid with 37 receptions for 392 yards, but no other Wildcat has more than 15 catches. It will be key to find another consistent pass-catcher.
When Florida Has the Ball
Florida's offense will get a huge lift this week with star tight end Kyle Pitts returning after missing the last two weeks. Pitts suffered an illegal hit against Georgia that gave him a concussion and required him to have surgery on his broken nose. Pitts has been a massive weapon for the Gators as he has 24 receptions for 414 yards and eight touchdowns in five games. Florida's offense, while good, hasn't been the same without Pitts.
Even in Pitts' absence, though, Kyle Trask has had a magical Heisman type of season in Gainesville. The senior has thrown for 2,554 yards, 31 touchdowns, and three interceptions in seven games. Up until last week's game, he had thrown at least four touchdown passes in every contest. And he still registered three scores against Vanderbilt. His lowest passer rating in any game this season is 169.9 too.
Florida will be facing a Kentucky defense that not only allowed 63 points against Alabama but also 503 yards of offense as well. The Wildcats have been solid overall on the season, however, and are slightly more vulnerable to the run (158.3 ypg, 59th nationally) than they are against the pass (222.8 ypg, 48th nationally).
Kentucky and Florida matchups are hard to predict. There is usually something wacky that determines the close outcome as well. This time could be a bit different because Florida's offense is difficult to stop. Although the Gators may not score 63 points on the Wildcats, 50-plus points are certainly not out of the question.
Kentucky will need to be able to run the ball effectively, and Wilson will need to remain mistake-free if the Wildcats are going to pull off the upset. In the end, Florida is likely too strong offensively for Kentucky to keep up, especially in Gainesville.
Prediction: Florida 40, Kentucky 20
Podcast: Week 13 Preview and Predictions + Interview with Kirk Herbstreit
— Written by Antwan Staley, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and has extensive experience covering Florida sports teams. Staley has written for Bleacher Report, the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post and is a reporter for Pro Player Insiders. Follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.