Can Kentucky Do It Again?

Can Kentucky Do It Again?
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Cats Look For Two In A Row In Gainesville

Last week was one to forget for the Kentucky football team. Heading into a matchup with top ranked Alabama the Cats were down 10 players including four starters due to COVID-19 related issues and injuries. What followed was a promising start that quickly went south leading to the fifth worst loss in school history. The SEC schedule makers did the Cats no favors as this week they head to “The Swamp.” However Kentucky had great success there two years ago so the question is can Kentucky do it again?

More COVID Problems

Before Kentucky can attempt to beat Florida again they first have to get there. On Monday the school announced most of the players who were out against Alabama would be back this week. The two notable exceptions were leading rusher Christopher Rodriguez and starting tight end Justin Rigg. However fortunes quickly changed and the team is in the middle of a major outbreak.

Should the Cats have any more positives then the status of the game is definitely in question. Assuming the game does happen let’s look at what Kentucky needs to do in order to spring the upset.

Still Looking For Offensive Consistency

Against Alabama Kentucky failed to get 200 yards on total offense. It’s the third time this season the Cats failed to reach that number. Furthermore Eddie Gran’s group is the only school in the SEC holding that dubious distinction. In a year featuring Madden type numbers all around college football seeing the Wildcats’ offense struggle is baffling to many. On the season Kentucky averages 318 yards per game, which puts them 116th out of 126 teams. No one can figure out why but the offense has been off the whole year.

Early in the game Kentucky totally changed their brand of football against Alabama running a no huddle offense which kept the Tide on their heels. However converting in the red zone proved their undoing. Three time the Cats were inside the 20 and came away with only a field goal. Once a holding penalty pushed them back and the other times they got way too conservative. Kentucky missed both field goals leaving points on the field. Alabama did what a good team does and took advantage of the mistakes.

Florida has given up both points and yards in bunches at times this year. While it would be great to see UK run the hurry up offense in order to get Todd Grantham’s defense on their heels look for Kentucky to control the ball behind the run. With Rodriguez out on Saturday look for A.J. Rose and  Kavosiey Smoke to pick up the slack.

Best Player In College Football?

The Gators’ offense starts with quarterback Kyle Trask, who’s having a Joe Burrow type season for the Gators. On the year he’s completed nearly 71 percent of his passes for 2,554 yards. In addition he’s thrown for 31 touchdowns and only two interceptions. He welcomes back a favorite target on Saturday as All-American tight end Kyle Pitts returns after missing the last two games with concussion like symptoms. Pitts ranks second on the team with 24 receptions and receiving yards with 414. He leads the Gators with eight touchdowns even though he’s missed the last two games.

One of the biggest matchups on Saturday is Kentucky’s very good secondary versus Pitts and wide receiver Kadarius Toney. The senior leads the team with 43 catches and 503 yards. Look for cornerback Kelvin Joseph matched up against Toney on Saturday. The Cats’ secondary ranks fourth in the country with 11 interceptions with Joseph having four. For Kentucky to have a chance they have to force some turnovers, something Trask hasn’t done in 2020.

The Last Time They Met

A season ago in Lexington, the game followed a familiar script. With five minutes left in the third quarter Kentucky led 21-10. However the Gators rolled off 19 unanswered points in the fourth quarter rallying for 29-21 win. The Cats had a chance but Chance Poore missed a 35 yard field goal with 54 seconds left that would have given Kentucky the lead. Josh Hammond broke off a 76 yard run while Dan Mullen’s club was simply trying to run out the clock.

Looking back it the fortune of Florida football changed in the Kentucky game. Feleipe Franks went down to a fractured ankle and was replaced by Trask who led the rally. He led the Gators to an 11-2 record and an Orange Bowl victory over Virginia. As mentioned earlier the numbers he’s putting up are very impressive.

However the last time these two teams met in Gainesville Kentucky broke a 31 game losing streak with a 27-16 win. In his first SEC game Terry Wilson threw for 151 yards and two touchdowns. In addition he ran for another 105 yards and another score. Benny Snell added 175 yards on the ground as Kentucky outgained the Gators 453-360. Can Kentucky do it again? It’s 2o2o so anything is possible.

Series History

Like many of the games against the upper echelon of the SEC Kentucky’s all-time record is less than stellar against Florida. Saturday marks the 71st time the two schools have met with the Gators leading the series 52-18. Before the 31 game winning streak started the two schools were nearly tied overall. With the all-SEC scheduling this year it’s a throwback to the days when the Cats and Gators met every November. Of course many True Blue Fans would remind you Kentucky won a whole lot more when Florida had to play Kentucky in the freezing cold.

Who Wins On Saturday?

Over the last six years Kentucky has played Florida pretty even, though they only have one win to show for it. In 2014, 2017 and last season the Cats should have won only to fall short. Can Kentucky do it again and win in The Swamp on Saturday? The short answer is no. Especially if Kentucky hits the field down 18 players. However look for the Wildcats to play much better than they did against Alabama keeping it close for a while. In the end Trask and the Gators pull away in the second half.

Florida 38   Kentucky 17

Thanks for checking out our preview here at Last Word On College Football. We’ll be back after the game with a recap and then get you ready for the season finale against South Carolina.

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