Florida vs. Kentucky: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, football game time, watch live stream, TV channel

By Adam Silverstein
October 2, 2021
Florida vs. Kentucky: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, football game time, watch live stream, TV channel
Football

Image Credit: Michael Nash

One-third of the way through this whirlwind 2021 college football season, the No. 10 Florida Gators have shown promise for whats ahead. After a slow start including some inefficiencies on offense and some typical defensive struggles, the Gators appear to have largely coalesced as a team that that has everything in front of it, including a potential College Football Playoff berth for the first time in event history.

In order to get there, Florida knows games like this — tough road contests against hungry teams — stand in their way just as much as showdowns against ranked opponents. The Gators have won 33 of the last 34 against the Kentucky Wildcats, including 16 straight in Lexington, Kentucky, but it has not been easy coming into Kroger Field over the last half-decade. UF has escaped by the skin of its teeth on more than one occasion, and UK is well aware of that.

Coming off a tough start that turned into a rousing victory over Tennessee last week, Florida’s confidence should be improved. The play of redshirt junior quarterback Emory Jones has certainly stepped up massively — to the point that the QB controversy that existed over the first three weeks of the season should largely dissipate … as long as he keeps up the high-level play. Redshirt freshman QB Anthony Richardson is expected back from a hamstring injury after two weeks of being cleared but benched for heeling purposes. Junior cornerback Kaiir Elam also looks to be back from a knee injury that sidelined him last week with his absence felt massively in the first quarter.

Most notable about Saturday is that, five weeks into the season, the Gators are experiencing their first true road environment. They did play in Tampa, Florida, in Week 2, but that crowd was largely made up of Florida fans. How will UF handle this sneakily tough environment with adversity facing it both on the field and in the stands?

There’s a ton on the line Saturday on the road as the Gators still has SEC Championship Game and CFP aspirations while traveling to face a bitter SEC East rival.

What will go down Saturday night when Florida visits Kentucky? Let’s find out.

Tale of the tape

No. 10 Florida GatorsKentucky Wildcats
Head coachDan MullenMark Stoops
Record3-1 (1-1)4-0 (2-0)
ConferenceSECSEC

Injuries and absences

Probable (2): QB Anthony Richardson (hamstring), CB Kaiir Elam (knee)
Questionable (2): OL Stewart Reese (undisclosed)
Out for season (2): LB Ventrell Miller (torn biceps) CB Jaydon Hill (knee), DB Kamar Wilcoxson (knee)
Notable inactives (?): To be announced before kickoff

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Oct. 2 | Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Kroger Field — Lexington, Kentucky [61,000]

TV: ESPN (Bob Wischusen, Dan Orlovsky, Kris Budden)
Live stream: WatchESPN | SiriusXM: 106 / 234 / 969 (app) | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida is 53-18 all-time against Kentucky with wins in 33 of the last 34 meetings since 1987. UF has also won 16 straight visiting Lexington.
» Though the Gators have dominated the series, they’ve only defeated the Wildcats by an average of 7.75 points per game in their last four meetings at Kroger Field with just two double-digit road victories since 2013.
» Under Mullen, Florida is 23-3 when scoring first, 26-2 when leading at halftime, 28-2 when leading after the third quarter, 22-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer and 24-1 when outrushing their opponents (losing to Alabama last week).
» UF is 7-8 when being outrushed by an opponent and 6-5 in games decided by 10 points or less.
» Florida is 6-9 against ranked opponents (2-3 vs. top five teams, 4-6 vs. top 10 teams) and 24-3 against unranked teams under Mullen. It is also 12-1 against nonconference opponents.
» The Gators have scored 24+ points in 30 of their last 33 games.
» Florida has scored 183 offensive touchdowns in 42 games under Mullen (4.4 per game). It scored 93 in 38 games from 2015-17 (2.5). UF has also scored 50+ points five times under Mullen compared to five times over 101 games from 2010-17.
» The Gators have posted 400+ yards of total offense in 14 consecutive games, the longest such streak since at least 1981. Their 666 yards against South Florida in Week 2 were the most in any game under Mullen.
» UF’s 400 yards rushing in Week 1 vs. FAU are the most under Mullen and the most for any FBS team this season. The Gators is third nationally with 322.5 yards rushing per game, and their 1,290 yards rushing through four games are the most for the program in that span since at least 1965.
» Florida is one of two FBS teams nationally (Alabama) that has not lost to an opponent that finished the season with a losing record since 2004.
» UF has scored in 414 consecutive games, an NCAA record.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -7 | O/U: 56

Lexington has not been friendly to the Gators as of late despite Florida ultimately being successful there — by the skin of its teeth — including a five-point win in 2015, a one-point escape in 2017 and a come-from-behind eight-point win in 2019 after Kyle Trask replaced Feleipe Franks at quarterback. Yes, UF has won 16 straight at UK, but those wins have not been easy to come by over the last half-decade, and there’s something about traveling to Kentucky that seems to make Florida forget its going to be a difficult game.

This season, the Gators are not entering in a look-ahead spot as they will come home with Vanderbilt waiting in a homecoming game. That’s not been the case in prior meetings when there’s been more difficult opponents waiting for Florida. Combined with the fact that it already has a loss on the season, the situation allows Mullen to fully focus his team on this game.

The Wildcats have seen success opening 4-0, but other than a 35-28 win over Missouri, it’s not like Kentucky’s set the world on fire. The Gators, meanwhile, enter as a team that’s already faced one of its two toughest tests of the regular season while coming off the most impressive offensive showing of Jones’ career. Stoops will surely have his plans in place to limit Jones — and potentially Richardson — but Florida should be able to control this game in the second half, particularly if its defense remains on point.

This is a meeting of the UF’s ninth-ranked offense against UK’s ninth-ranked defense, but the visitors do have the edge based on opponent quality to this point. Florida’s defense must not underestimate QB Will Levis or wide receiver Wan’Dale Robinson, who can certainly burn them as other pass catchers have at points this season.

Candidly, this is the most difficulty I’ve ever had picking Gators games early in a season, but with the spread finally dropping to a flat touchdown, I like Florida to pick up a (recently) rare double-digit win in Lexington while holding Kentucky defensively so the game slides under.

2021 records: ATS picks 1-3 | O/U picks 1-2-1

Odds and ends

» Florida will wear its traditional orange helmets, white jerseys and orange pants as it normally does to combat the blue of Kentucky on the road.

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