A huge SEC matchup between the Kentucky Wildcats and the sixth-ranked Florida Gators takes place Saturday afternoon at 12 p.m. Eastern Standard Time at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida . Currently, the Florida Gators are favored big over the Wildcats by 23 points, which is up from 21.5 points at the opening. On the other hand, the total stands at 61 points, up from 57.5 points at the opening.
On one hand, the Kentucky Wildcats have struggled as they enter this matchup with what has been a solid Florida Gators squad as they have dropped three of their last four (outright), including enduring a 63-3 road loss to Alabama Crimson Tide in their last matchup. Important to note that the Wildcats are 1-3 against the spread in their last four games, including losing out as 31.5 favorites versus the Crimson Tide. On the other hand, Florida is on a high at this time as they seek their 5th straight win after they were able to take out the Vanderbilt Commodores on the road by a 38-17 score in their last time out. And while the Gators are 3-1 ATS in the last four games, they failed to cover the spread as 31.5 favorites versus Vandy.
And while Florida has certainly had the upper hand in winning nine of the last ten versus the Wildcats, overall, it should be noted that Kentucky was able to pick up a 27-16 win in their last visit to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in 2018. Furthermore, the Wildcats have covered in the last three meetings versus Florida (all as underdogs) including covering the number as ten point underdogs in last year's meeting.
Wildcats continue to struggleCan things get any worse for the Wildcats? They are now ranked in the lower tier of the SEC East while also struggling on both sides of the ball. To get a better glimpse, the Wildcats, aside from posting 38 points in a three-point win versus the Vanderbilt Commodores on November 14th, have combined for a total of 16 points in their three prior contests. And while the rushing attack for Kentucky is putting up 178 yards per game, good for 51st in the nation, the unit is still averaging just 21 points per game while committing seven turnovers on the year. To make matters worse, they will take the field versus the Florida defense without their top weapon on the offensive side of the ball.
Running back Christian Rodriguez, Jr. is out for Saturday's contest due to an undisclosed injury as he will miss his second straight contest . Important to note that Rodriguez Jr has rushed for 562 yards along with six touchdowns in 2020, including posting consecutive 100-yard rushing games versus the Georgia Bulldogs as well as versus the Vanderbilt Commodores. However, without him in the lineup, Kentucky struggled in their last matchup versus the Alabama Crimson Tide as the team racked up just 59 yards on the ground, led by running back Asim Rose with 68 yards on 10 carries.
Rose has accumulated 414 yards on the season along with a touchdown in addition to two fumbles. Kentucky has been able to cover the spread in their last three games versus Florida due to their ability to run the ball as the team posted well over 100 yards rushing in each of their last three games; However, with their main option within the back field unable to play for this contest, the Wildcats will certainly have to rely more on their passing game in order to move the chains.
Nonetheless, the passing attack for Kentucky has also struggled this year as quarterback Terry Wilson is completing just 63% of his passes for 829 yards, six touchdowns, along with two interceptions for a passing attack that is averaging just 122 yards per game, 121st in the nation. In fact, Wilson completed just 53% of his passes for 120 yards along with an interception versus Alabama while also throwing for 200 yards or more in just one of the team's contests on the year.
Receiver Josh Ali has been his favorite target on the outside with 392 yards on the year along with a touchdown; Nonetheless, AlI has accumulated 52 receiving yards or less in each of his last six games while recording just one touchdown during this time. Also, tight end Keaton Upshaw has two touchdowns on the season, yet, has only one touchdown in his last four starts. Despite this, Kentucky , if they can overcome the Florida blitz, can possibly make some headway within their passing game thanks to Florida ranking 98th in the country in stopping the pass while allowing 270 yards passing to opponents per outing. It should be noted that the Gators allowed 319 yards to a Vanderbilt team that is winless on the season in their last outing .
The defense for Kentucky has certainly been the better of the two, however, as they are allowing less than 400 total yards per game to opponents in 2020 while also racking up 12 takeaways , ranking them fifth in the nation. On the other hand, Kentucky's defense, while being effective in stopping the pass, has allowed a tad less than 160 yards on the ground in 2020. To make matters worse, the linebacking corps is struggling with injury at the moment as Jamin Davis, who has 37 tackles , a sack, a forced fumble, along with two interceptions, is questionable for Saturday's contest with a knee injury while Eric Jackson is also questionable due to an undisclosed injury.
Kentucky has had issues in stopping Florida's offense in recent matchups as they allowed 400 or more yards total in three of their last four contests, overall, including four straight games to where the Gators rushed for 130 yards and more.
Gators dominate as of lateFlorida enters this contest on an entirely different level as they certainly have the inside track in winning the SEC East with the record of 6-1 while also enter this game as winners of four straight games after falling by three points to the Texas A&M Aggies October 10th. Their most recent victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores was a bit shaky at first, nonetheless the Gators were able to outscore the home team 21-7 in the second half (after going up to 17-10 at the half) to pick up the victory. Quarterback Kyle Trask has been simply outstanding in throwing for 300 yards or more in each of his last five contests while accumulating 21 touchdown passes alongside just two interceptions during this time. For the season, Trask is also completing over 70% of his passes in 2020.
Trask has certainly taken advantage of his targets on the outside all season long as Kadarius Toney , Justin Shorter, along with Kemore Gamble and Jacob Copeland have each produced within the passing game consistently. Fortunately for Florida, talented tight end Kyle Pitts, who has not suited up since their contest versus Georgia, is likely to return from a concussion for this contest. Important to note that Pitts has recorded eight touchdowns for the Gators this year while averaging 17.3 yards per catch.
The Gators have also not been too shabby in their running game this season as they are averaging just under 150 yards per game, led by running back Damien Pierce , who is coming off an 11 Rush, 55-yard night along with a rushing score versus the Commodores. For the season, Pierce has posted 440 yards along with four touchdowns while averaging 4.8 yards per carry. It will be interesting to see how Florida performs within the trenches versus a struggling defense for Kentucky that has had no answers for the Gators rushing attack in past meetings.
Defensively, as stated, Florida has been solid in stopping the run this season ; However, the unit must be able to play better within their defensive secondary as they have certainly given up some big plays in 2020. This is due to the fact that the Gators have had to deal with injuries within their pass secondary in addition to the front seven, as this caused them to lag behind in putting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. Important to note that the linebacking corps for Florida may be a bit shorthanded for this contest as linebackers Jeremiah Moon, James Houston IV, along with Ventrell Miller, are each questionable with foot, shoulder, along with undisclosed injuries. In all, the Florida defense is allowing 28 points per game this season while allowing 28 points or more in three of their last five contests, overall.
Stats & Trends
- Wildcats are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 meetings vs Gators
- Wildcats are 3 - 12 ATS in their last 15 games after accumulating less than 100 yards rushing in their previous game
- Gators are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games versus a team with a losing road record
- Gators are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games following a ATS loss
- Favorite is 9 - 4 ATS in the last 13 meetings versus the Gators and Wildcats
With Kentucky struggling the way they are on both sides of the ball along with Florida's offense performing on another level in addition to getting back tight end Pitts for this contest, one can certainly expect the Gators to reach paydirt early and often in this contest. Yes, Kentucky has done well for themselves versus the spread in the last three meetings versus Florida; Nonetheless, this Florida team is certainly a different team than in recent years. Furthermore, with the Gators seeking to put some space in between them and the rest of the SEC East, losing is certainly not an option at this time. In all, expect the Gators to run away with a win in this contest while covering for the third straight time at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.