Florida Gators football will look to start 3-0 for the first time since 2012 when it takes on the Kentucky Wildcats on Saturday evening. The Gators are hoping to avoid a historic loss and begin Southeastern Conference play with a bang as head coach Jim McElwain leads Florida into Commonwealth Stadium in Lexington, Kentucky.
Here’s a look ahead at Saturday’s game: what to know and how to watch the Gators.
Location: Commonwealth Stadium – Lexington, Kentucky [Capacity: 61,000]
Weather: 72°F (feels like 72°F), mostly cloudy (35% chance of rain), winds N at 9 mph
Time: 7:30 p.m. EDT
TV: SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Maria Taylor)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|Florida Gators||Kentucky Wildcats|
|Head Coach: Jim McElwain||Head Coach: Mark Stoops|
|Record: 2-0||Record: 2-0|
|Conference: Southeastern||Conference: Southeastern|
Odds and lines
Spread: Florida -3.5 | O/U: 52.5
The Gators have history on their side Saturday. They are on a 28-game winning stream against the Wildcats dating back to 1987 and have won those contests by an average of 24.6 points. In those 28 contests, Florida has only defeated Kentucky by fewer than four points once (2003) and by single digits seven times.
However, the latest single-digit victory came just last season when UF squeaked out a 36-30 triple-overtime win over UK in The Swamp.
Kentucky, meanwhile, has started 2-0 and earned a 26-22 win on the road at South Carolina last week while Florida was struggling at home against East Carolina. It was the Wildcats’ first SEC road win since 2009 and first victory in an SEC opener since 2007.
The momentum is squarely in the favor of the home team, but the visiting Gators have a legitimate opportunity to prove their doubters wrong and hold up an important winning streak. The key for Florida will be avoiding turnovers in a hostile environment and finding a way to snuff out Kentucky’s running game (UF is third nationally in rushing defense). This could be a low-scoring affair and the under is enticing.
The advice is to go in on the Gators but ultimately avoid the total.
ATS picks: 2-0 | O/U picks: 2-0
Injuries and absences
» Active (4): Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III, safety Keanu Neal (hamstring), offensive tackle Martez Ivey (knee), wide receiver Latroy Pittman (off suspension)
» Questionable/doubtful (3): Quarterback/wide receiver Joshua Grady (leg), defensive tackle Thomas Holley (hip), tight end C’yontai Lewis (hand)
» Out (3): Linebacker Alex Anzalone (shoulder), running back Case Harrison (thumb), LB Matt Rolin (undisclosed)
The Gators will start redshirt freshman Will Grier at quarterback for the second straight game. Though McElwain noted that sophomore Treon Harris will also play in the game, he did say this week that he hopes to go with a hot hand approach in the contest, leaving a signal caller in as long as he’s playing well.
McElwain will not yank his quarterback for a couple of off throws, he claimed, but he is certainly hoping to see progress and obviously believes Grier gives Florida the best chance to win at the onset of the game.
For more on the quarterback situation, click here.
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) September 19, 2015
The team captains, which change weekly, are solely responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
» Florida 37-4 in the month of September since 2005.
» The Gators are 48-17 all-time against the Wildcats, entering Saturday’s game on a 28-game winning streak, which dates back to 1987 and is the longest active winning streak nationally in an annual series. It will become the fourth-longest such streak every with another Florida victory.
» UF has outscored UK by an average of 24.6 points in those 28 consecutive wins.
» The Gators have opened the SEC slate with a victory in 11 straight seasons.
» Florida is 166-16 since 1990 against unranked opponents.
» UF in 2015 will face eight bowl teams, six ranked in the preseason AP Top 25.
» The Gators’ defense has been a hallmark of the program; it are 196-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest.
» Florida’s defense has forced the most turnovers in the SEC since 2000 (400).
» The Gators are tied for the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 10 straight seasons.
» Florida is one of only four teams nationally to play three or more consecutive games away from home in 2015 (Arkansas, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe).
» The Gators have the nation’s third-best home winning percentage since 1990 (.850). UF is 66-7 against nonconference opponents and 111-10 against unranked teams in that span.
» Florida has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (241, Ohio State – 249).
28 str8 duhhhhhh… 😴 pic.twitter.com/mApdePTVhy
— Matthew Elam (@ElamVsElo) September 19, 2015