GatorBait GameDay: Are the Gators looking for Bluegrass redemption?

By HUNTER TURNER

GatorBait GameDay Coordinator


Game Preview: The Florida Gators will take on the Kentucky Wildcats Saturday at 7

p.m., looking for redemption as they head to Lexington for their first road game of the

season. The Gators are enjoying a six-game winning streak for the first time since 2015

when they won seven in a row. Their loss to Kentucky last year snapped a 31-game

winning streak against the Wildcats. Kentucky last beat Florida in Lexington in 1986.

Florida has not lost consecutive games to Kentucky since 1976 and 1977. Florida leads

the series 51-18 overall.

Time and Channel: 7:00 PM on ESPN with Steve Levy play-by-play and Brian

Griese/Todd McShay as analysts as well as Molly McGrath reporting.

Ticket Prices: Tickets cost between $135-$535 on www.StubHub.com.

Betting Line: Florida opens as a -9.5 point favorite.

Weather Forecast: 86 degrees is the daytime high and 64 degrees is low with a 30%

chance of rain in the morning. The forecast for kickoff is for partly cloudy skies in the

evening with only a 10% chance of rain.

Franks Facts: Feleipe Franks completed 25-27 passes for 270 yards and 2 TDs. The

92.6 percent completion percentage is a school record (minimum 20 passes thrown)

eclipsing Tim Tebow’s record of 88.6 percent in the 2010 Sugar Bowl. Feleipe Franks

has thrown for at least 250 yards in the last 5 games. Franks ranks sixth nationally in

completion percentage 77.8 and behind only Joe Burrow and Anthony Gordon among

those who have 40 attempts. Franks is the first player since Mackenzie Milton to

complete over 90 percent of his passes.

Offensive Fact: The Gators have 500 yards of offense in 4 of their last six games.

Florida already has passing plays of 60-plus yards this year. That is the highest total

since 2016.

Defensive Facts: The Gators are leading the FBS in sacks with 15. The Gators took

five games last year to record 15 sacks. This was the defense’s first shutout since 2016.


Jabari Zuniga is Florida’s top disrupter with 3 sacks and 4.5 tackles for loss and leads

the SEC. Florida is the only SEC team with four players with 1.5 sacks. In 15 games

under Todd Grantham, Florida has 5-plus sacks in seven of those games.

Opponent Facts: Kentucky has lost two players for the season, QB Terry Wilson and S

Devontae Robinson who was injured this past summer. The Kentucky Wildcats are 12-3

over the past 15 games, which is tied for second in the SEC during that period only

behind Alabama. Kentucky’s 10-3 record last year is its best in 41 years, and only third

10-win season in program history. Kentucky going 5-3 last season was its best record in

the conference since 1977. WR Lynn Bowden jr. was able to reach 1,000 receiving

yards and is only three catches away from reaching 100 career receptions.

Hunter’s Predictions: This game is a big one for Florida to get the taste of last year’s

loss out of its mouth. Also, the Gators still haven’t lost in Kentucky since five years

before I was born. I expect Florida to try to establish the run game. I would like to see

them pass to open up the run because I believe the offensive line is better at pass

protection. I believe that Florida will run for over 100 yards against Kentucky. Feleipe

Franks will throw for at least 250 yards and 2 TDs. Florida will get at least one turnover

and continue the winning streak in Lexington. I predict the Gators will win, 28-14.

Key Matchups: Sawyer Smith will get his first start as a Kentucky Wildcat on Saturday

Night. Smith is a graduate transfer from Troy where he threw for 1,669 yards as a

starter. He threw 14 touchdowns and 6 interceptions last season. He will take over for

the injured Wilson, out for the season. He completed 5x9 passes for 76 yards and 2

TDs in mopup duty against Eastern Michigan.


Kentucky’s defense is ranked 5th in the SEC in sacks. Kentucky’s defense is led by

inside linebacker Kash Daniel who is the inside linebacker. Kash had 5 tackles and 1

interception in the game vs. Eastern Michigan. Daniel also has 119 tackles in his career.

Wide receiver Lynn Bowden Jr. will need to have a great day to help out Sawyer Smith.

Kentucky will also need help from the running game and will turn to AJ Rose and

Kavoisey Smoke as well as Chris Rodriguez. Kentucky will use a running back by

committee approach.

Jon Greenard will be looking to stop the running game for Florida along with Jabari

Zuniga who continue to be Florida’s disruptors on the defensive front. Look for Van

Jefferson and Trevon Grimes to step up for Florida on the offensive side of the ball with

the absence of Kadarius Toney. These players will need to make their presence felt for

each team on Saturday night to earn the victory.

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