Florida travels to Lexington to take on Kentucky in the team’s first road conference game. The Gators enter the contest 3-1 overall and 1-0 in SEC play.
Florida is coming off a lackluster offensive performance against Charlotte while the Wildcats enter Saturday 4-0 and dropped Vanderbilt 45-28 their last time out.
The following are our staff’s predictions for Florida vs Kentucky:
Carson Euverard – The Gators’ offense will return two key starters, center Kingsley Eguakan and wide receiver Eugene Wilson. With these additions, the offense will look to get back on track after a poor performance against Charlotte. Trevor Etienne should be the workhorse this weekend after a relatively quiet game against the 49ers.
Austin Armstrong is letting the defense make plays and the front seven should be able to get pressure on Kentucky quarterback Devin Leary. The Gators should have a bit of an advantage playing a noon game on the road. Florida wins 24-17.
Alyssa Britton-Harr – The No. 22 ranked Gators, I believe, will play heavy against Kentucky on Saturday. Florida has only lost to Kentucky on the road once, and that was two years ago. Florida head coach Billy Napier and Wisconsin transfer quarterback Graham Mertz have only one loss under their belt, and to two-time PAC-12 champions, Utah. Since the start of SEC Play, Florida has the chance to start 2-0, and will be heading into the game with a prominent defense who is ranked nationally No. 5. The work defensive coordinator Austin Armstrong has implemented is working for Florida and benefiting them tremendously. Offensively, Eugene Wilson lll is cleared to play on Saturday which is a huge component to Florida’s offense in running the ball. I believe the Gators will show out after their unpromising win against Charlotte, the ball will be run more and we should see some powerful plays. Florida, 24-10.
Hugh Green – Coming off a somewhat disappointing performance against Charlotte a week ago, the Gators hit the road for the first time since Week 1 to take on Kentucky. Florida dominated this series from 1980-2017. In this stretch, the Gators won 37 out of 38 games, including winning 31 in a row from 1987-2017. However, Kentucky has won the last two matchups between these schools.
This season, Florida has a new identity to them with Graham Mertz at quarterback and Austin Armstrong’s defense. Mertz has been on point so far, completing 78% of his passes, which ranks first in the SEC. He has not gone downfield with the ball often, but he has been accurate with his short and mid-range passes.
On the defensive side, Armstrong and company have given up just 244.8 yards per game, which ranks first in the SEC and fifth in the FBS. Florida has also allowed 15.7 points per game, which is fourth in the conference, behind Georgia (12.7), Alabama (13.5) and Kentucky (15.0).
This is going to be a low scoring game between two stout defenses, but the Gators will edge out the Wildcats in Lexington. Florida, 20-17.
Brian Fox – I’m a big Devin Leary (UK QB) fan, I admit it. I was hoping he’d elect to transfer to UF before ultimately choosing Kentucky. Leary has thrown for over a thousand yards and nine scores, but he’s also thrown five interceptions against some not-so-great competition so far.
Florida DC Austin Armstrong will look to get pressure on Leary to force errant throws.
But what about the Gators offense? Florida will need to find a way to succeed in the red zone with more than just field goals.
This game feels like a toss up and for some reason, I believe it will be a shootout and I don’t know if Florida can keep up offensively. Kentucky 34, Florida 27.
Florida and Kentucky kick off at noon from Kroger Stadium Saturday. The Gators are a one-point underdog. The game will be broadcast live on ESPN.