Who: Kentucky (1-0) vs. No. 25 Florida (1-0)
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
TV: SEC Network
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850
Tickets: Visit FloridaGators.com.
Line: Florida by 13.5
Series record: Florida leads 51-17.
On and on it goes
Florida’s winning streak against Kentucky has grown to epic proportions — 31 games now (and Gator defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson predicting it will be at 32 at the end of the night). And the bigger it gets, the more both schools seem to downplay it. The company line has become: this is the first time this UK team has played this UF team, so the streak is no factor. And so it goes again. “I’m definitely aware of it, but it’s not something we’re really focused on,” sophomore UF cornerback Marco Wilson said. “Most of those games we didn’t even play in, so it doesn’t really matter. It just matters next game go out there and perform. When you hit the field on Saturday, it has nothing to do with anything. You just want to win right now. You don’t care what people did 10 years ago.” It’s the longest active streak in an uninterrupted series and the fourth-longest in NCAA history. Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida since 1986 and hasn’t won in Gainesville since 1979.
‘Cats may play two QBs
Junior college transfer Terry Wilson made his much-anticipated debut at quarterback for UK last week against Central Michigan and it did not go as planned. He had three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble — that Central Michigan converted into 13 points and he had problems at times sustaining drives. He was so shaky that he ended up having to give way for a while to backup Gunnar Hoak, who threw a touchdown pass. There was a lot of speculation this week that Hoak would get the start against the Gators, but UK coach Mark Stoops is sticking with Wilson as the starter. There’s a good chance both QBs will play tonight.
What’s with the line
Remember last season when the veteran Florida offensive line was supposed to be a strength but turned out to be a weakness? Well, last week’s performance has raised concerns that it could happen again. That’s because the big guys up front, at least the starters, got barely any push in the running game against a Charleston Southern defensive line they should have physically dominated. The concern is if the Gators can’t establish a ground game against Charleston Southern, how do they hope to do it against Kentucky or anyone else in the SEC? OL coach John Hevesy and the players said they’ve been working on correcting the mistakes and can fix the problem. It’s something to keep an eye on tonight, because if the Gators can’t run the ball it could be a difficult night for quarterback Feleipe Franks.
Today’s game questions
• Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks was benched in the second half of last year’s game. Will he atone? Or will he struggle against the ‘Cats again.
• Can the Gators generate some much-needed push up front in the running game?
• The UF defense held running back Benny Snell Jr. to less than 100 yards rushing last season. Can the Gators do it again?
• Who wins the matchup between the UK receivers and the UF defensive backs?
• Will the Florida tight ends be more involved in the offense?
Click back Monday for Andreu’s answers
Florida 28, Kentucky 17
(Season record: 1-0)
Florida’s run defense vs. Kentucky running back Benny Snell Jr.:
Snell has said he considers himself to be the best running back in the SEC. And he has a strong argument. He’s rushed for more than 1,000 yards in each of the past two seasons and is off to a good start again after rushing for 125 yards and two touchdowns last week. He will be facing a strong Florida run defense that basically gave up only one play last week, a 70-yard run in the closing minutes of the first half. Other than that, the first-team defense gave up a mere 19 yards on 15 carries. The Gators will be facing a much more talented running back in Snell, and Snell will be facing a much better run defense than a week ago against Central Michigan. With UK struggling to get things right in the passing game, this is a huge matchup. For the record, the Gators held Snell to 59 yards rushing in last year’s game.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Kentucky: QBs Terry Wilson and Gunnar Hoak. Wilson is expected to start, but no one would be surprised to see Hoak. Both played in the opener, partly because Wilson left the game with a bruised shoulder. Wilson completed 11 of 18 passes for 78 yards, but had two interceptions and a fumble. Hoak completed 4 of 9 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown.
Florida: DB Chauncey Gardner-Johnson guaranteed a victory against the Wildcats, saying the streak will “be 32 after Saturday.” Gardner-Johnson had five tackles, including two sacks in the opener.
FACTS & FIGURES
Only three uninterrupted series have had longer streaks than Florida’s over Kentucky. Notre Dame won 43 in a row against Navy (1964-2006). Nebraska won 36 straight against Kansas (1969-2004). And Oklahoma won 32 consecutive against Kansas State (1937-68). … Three of past four meetings decided by six points or less. … Florida has won 13 consecutive SEC openers. … Kentucky’s Mark Stoops is 0-5 against Florida as head coach, but went 4-1 against the Gators as an assistant at Miami (2001-03) and Florida State (2010-12). … Florida’s Dan Mullen went 8-1 against the Wildcats during his tenure at Mississippi State.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.