Florida Gators @ Kentucky Wildcats Preview, Prediction

The Gators are set to take on the Kentucky Wildcats this Saturday in the Gators second straight SEC East matchup.

Florida enters the game 1-1, coming off of an improbable 62 yard walk-off hail mary against bitter rival Tennessee.

Kentucky, 3-0, knocked off South Carolina last week and handled business against two lesser opponents in the first two weeks of 2017.

Both teams come into the game expecting a win. The game will be played at Kroger field in Lexington, Kentucky at 7:30 pm on Saturday.

Let’s take a look at four storylines for the Gators heading into their first road SEC contest of 2017.

The QB situation – It appears, after a magical ending last week, that Feleipe Franks has taken over the job at QB and won’t continue to get yanked from the game as he did in the week one loss to Michigan. Franks still hasn’t played his best, and probably won’t until late in the season, and maybe not even until 2018. But Franks has been tested by some highly talented defenses to this point in the season. Both Michigan and Tennessee have far more talent than does Kentucky. The Wildcats allowed over 300 yards through the air last week against Jake Bentley. Can Feleipe Franks build on his magic moment from week two? Or will the Gators go back to the status quo of ugly offense in their third game of 2017?

The Gators could be without their most consistent defensive back Duke Dawson. Dawson is questionable for the Gators and is going through concussion protocol. If he can’t go then the already young Gators defensive backfield will get even younger. Freshman CBs Marco Wilson and CJ Henderson have been impressive early on in the season. These guys are all talented, but as the Gators attempt to win their third straight SEC East title, injuries and youth in the secondary could catch up to them.

Speaking of missing players, the Gators are still without all their guys that were involved in the fraud situation. That means they will continue to miss their best WR (Antonio Callaway) and RB (Jordan Scarlett). Several players appear ready to step up for the Gators young offense. The tight ends are capable, while WR Tyrie Cleveland is ready for a big time break out performance. Offensive weapon Kadarius Toney has flashed in both games for the Gators and could provide a spark on the offensive side of the ball. Will the Gators young playmakers step up?

The Gators have beaten the Wildcats 30 straight times. That is not a typo. This year, however, Kentucky feels they have a legit chance to beat the Gators. Will playing on their home field help them against the Gators? One thing that is known about this Kentucky team is that they’re stout against the run. They are giving up only 57 yards a game on the ground –  good enough for third in the country. The Gators are without their best runner, but Mark Thompson, Laical Perine, Malik Davis, and even Kadarius Toney have the talent to get the job done. Will the Gators offensive line be able to pave the way for a successful ground attack?

PREDICTION:

The Gators don’t lose to Kentucky — it just doesn’t happen (at least in football). The Gators 30 consecutive wins against the Wildcats would suggest that the Gators will get another one this weekend, however standing on history along isn’t the best way to predict the outcome of this game. The Gators have played much tougher competition in 2017 than the Wildcats have, yet Kentucky’s margin of victory against sub par team hasn’t been impressive. Against Southern Miss in week one Kentucky squeaked out a narrow a 7 point win, and in week two only beat Eastern Kentucky by 11. Obviously, their win against South Carolina was big, not only for their confidence, but also for outside perception. Still, Kentucky has yet to face a team like the Gators in 2017. Franks will find more sustained success in this one that he has to date, and the Gators will be able to, at times, play ball control offense. Kentucky will struggle against the Gators defense and the  Gators will win by a touchdown or two.

Florida 27, Kentucky 20