Gator Extra: Florida Gators at Kentucky Wildcats pregame notebook

Special to Gatorsports.com
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No. 9 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) at No. 23 Kentucky (4-0, 2-0)

When: 6 p.m. today. TV:ESPN. Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Line: Gators by 7 1/2, according to Tipico Sportsbook.

Series: Florida leads 53-18.

What's At Stake in Gators vs. Wildcats?

The Gators seek their second consecutive conference win to leapfrog Kentucky and stay within reach of first-place and No. 2 Georgia in the East. Off to their best start since going 10-3 in 2018, the Wildcats also seek their first 3-0 SEC start since then in hopes of at least keeping pace with the Bulldogs.

Gators vs. Wildcats: Key matchup

Florida’s offense vs. Kentucky’s defense. The Gators come in averaging nearly 541 yards per game to rank ninth nationally in the FBS. The attack includes the nation’s third-best ground game at 322.5 yards, a dramatic shift from last season’s pass-heavy scheme that averaged nearly 379 yards. They face a Wildcats defense ranked ninth at 260 yards allowed per game and allowing just 87.2 on the ground to rank 20th nationally.

Gators vs. Wildcats: Players to watch

Florida: DE Zachary Carter is tied for first in the SEC with 4.5 sacks and third with seven tackles for loss. He had a career-high three sacks in the opener against FAU and one in last week’s win over Tennessee. The Gators are tied for second in the SEC with 14 sacks.

Kentucky: Junior running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. leads SEC rushers with 522 yards and averages 130.5 per game. He’s coming off a 26-carry, 144-yard effort at South Carolina, gaining more than half his total during the fourth quarter as the Wildcats outgained the Gamecocks 230-58. The junior has struggled with fumbles this season, including two last week, but otherwise thrived as the featured back in a balanced attack.

FACTS & FIGURES

Florida hasn’t lost in Lexington since 1986, winning 16 consecutive times on Kentucky’s home field. ... The Gators’ 14-game streak with at least 400 offensive yards is the nation’s longest, while their 1,290 yards rushing is their most through four contests since at least 1965. ... Kentucky seeks its first win over a top-10 team since beating No. 10 South Carolina 31-28 in 2010. ... The Wildcats rank ninth nationally on third down (55% conversion). ... Kentucky is unbeaten despite a minus-nine turnover margin that ranks next to last among 130 FBS programs. ... Florida ranks eighth nationally with 14 sacks, including three last week against the Vols. UF defensive end Zachary Carter had one and leads the Gators with 4.5, which is tied for the SEC lead. The Gators have 133 sacks in four seasons under defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, which leads the SEC over the span and is third nationally behind Clemson (156) and Pittsburgh (145).

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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