Game day primer: What you need to know entering Florida-Kentucky matchup
And just like that, conference play is here.
The Gators open up a pivotal stretch of games with a road matchup against Kentucky on Saturday. Here’s some stuff to get you ready for game day.
Florida (2-0) at Kentucky (2-0), Saturday 7:30 p.m. (SEC Network)
Weather: 70 degrees, 35 percent chance of rain
Line: Gators are favored to win by 3.5 points.
Numbers to know:
* The Gators enter the game on a 28-game winning streak over Kentucky. The last time Florida lost to the Wildcats came in 1986.
* Florida is looking to win its first SEC game for the 11th consecutive season.
* Gators wide receiver Demarcus Robinson recorded a career-high 15 catches for 216 yards and two touchdowns against Kentucky last season. He has 10 catches through the first two games this season.
* Kentucky ranks 110th in the country in rushing defense, allowing 221 rushing yards per game this season.
* Florida ranks 87th in the country in pass defense, giving up 241 passing yards per game through the first two weeks of the season.
Story lines to watch:
* Will the Gators secondary return to form?: It has been a slow start to the season for Florida’s secondary. East Carolina threw for 346 yards against the Gators last week. Florida ranks 87th in the country in pass defense through the first two weeks, giving up 241 passing yards per game. But the secondary should have all of its starters healthy for the first time this season this week with safety Keanu Neal (hamstring) making his season debut, and All-American cornerback Vernon Hargreaves (leg) expected to return after missing last week’s win over East Carolina. While the Gators have that working in their favor, they also have something working against them. Kentucky’s passing attack will be the best Florida has seen yet this season, as quarterback Patrick Towles torched the Gators for 369 passing yards and three touchdowns in last year’s matchup. Towles will try to duplicate that performance Saturday.
* The streak: We’ve heard about it all week. Yes, the Gators have won 28 straight against the Wildcats. Yes, Kentucky hasn’t beaten Florida since 1986. But all of that doesn’t really matter this year. Even if the Wildcats lose to the Gators again Saturday, Kentucky has definitely closed the gap. It took Florida three overtimes to keep the winning streak alive last season. It’s expected to be another tight game this year. And I’m pretty sure Kentucky is tired of hearing about being on the wrong end of a streak like that.
* Starting QB: It’s very possible that the Gators will have a full-time starting quarterback by the end of this week’s game against Kentucky. Will Grier is getting the start. If the redshirt freshman impresses early, expect coach Jim McElwain to keep him in the game. McElwain wants one of Florida’s quarterbacks to make him stick with one. But Treon Harris and Grier haven’t had the sustained success required to win the job yet.
“That’s what we’d like to get to,” McElwain said when asked if he would stick with the hot hand against the Wildcats. “If a guy’s hitting threes, filling it up like Freeman Williams used to. You don’t take the guy out because he’s filling it up. … Again, we kind of have those reps, but obviously if a guy’s hitting it and distributing it and has a good stroke, then we’ll go with it.”
We should know early on if Grier is the guy. If he starts slow, the two-quarterback system will continue.
My prediction: Florida 27, Kentucky 24.
Anthony’s season picks record: 2-0.