Kentucky - Florida Preview



From UK Athletics...

Kentucky hosts one of the most anticipated games at Kroger Field in recent memory this week with No. 20 Florida coming to town in a matchup that will put the winner in the driver's seat in the SEC East race. The Wildcats have a chance to start a season 4-0 for the first time since 2008 and 2-0 in SEC play for the first time since the 1977 team went undefeated in conference games.

The Cats now are 10-3 over their past 13 regular season games, including road wins this season at South Carolina and Southern Miss. Despite allowing a touchdown on the first play of the game at South Carolina the Cats responded with a comprehensive effort in last week's 23-13 win in front of a sold out crowd in Columbia.

The game will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET at Kroger Field and air on the SEC Network.

The buzz ahead of Saturday night's game between Kentucky and No. 20 Florida is both wide-ranging and all consuming.

There's the Gators' blowout win over the Wildcats last year to talk about, not to mention the sellout crowd that will be attendance. Though it's only September, the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division race is already a subject of conversation too. And oh yeah, that 30-year streak.

So, how is UK reacting to all that? With a lot more of what got the Cats to 3-0 in the first place.

"We really don't change it all," quarterback Stephen Johnson said. "We really just try to tune all that out and come in Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and just work. Do what we've been doing these last three or four weeks and just keep on grinding."

With Saturday set to be the first sold-out home game for Kentucky since 2015, fans will be raring to go come 7:30 p.m. at Kroger Field. The Cats will be too, but the difference is they've had to be sharp all week...Read More
Scouting Florida

• Florida is coming off an impressive 2016 season that saw the Gators go 9-4 overall, including 6-2 in the SEC. The Gators went on to earn a bid in the Outback Bowl, capturing a 30-3 victory over the Iowa Hawkeyes.
• Head coach Jim McElwain is entering his third season with the Gators. Under his leadership during the 2016 season, Florida won its second straight SEC Eastern Division title. In addition, McElwain became the first coach in league history to reach the SEC Championship in his first two seasons as a head coach.
• Last season, the Gators delivered on both sides of the ball. Florida averaged 23.9 points per game and limited opponents to 16.8 points per game.
• Florida returns its top receiver from a season ago in Antonio Callaway. Callaway appeared in 12 games and started in 11. He was the first player in school history to score a rushing, receiving, passing, punt return, and kickoff return touchdown in a career.
• Defensively, Florida is returning two leaders, Marcell Harris. Harris led the team with 73 total tackles. He was a key component in the final four games of the season as he recorded key tackles in fourth-and-goal situations.
• The Gators are coming off a wild win at home over Tennessee, completing a Hail Mary on the final play of the game for a 26-20 win. The Gators led by 10 in the closing minutes before Tennessee rallied to tie the game and set up the miraculous finish.

Series Record vs. Florida

• Florida leads the all-time series 50-17, including 20-10 in Lexington.
• UK's last win in Lexington was in 1986, 10-3.
• Florida has won 30 consecutive meetings dating to 1986.
• Two of the past three meetings have been decided by six points or less. UK fell in triple overtime to Florida, 36-30, in 2014 and lost 14-9 in Lexington in 2015.
• This will be the ninth consecutive season UK and Florida have met in the month of September.
• The first-ever meeting between the two schools was in 1917 with UK earning a 52-0 victory.
• The two teams have met annually since the 1967 season.
• Biggest UK win: 52 (52-0) in 1917 in Lexington
• Biggest Florida win: 66 (73-7) in 1994 in Gainesville
• Games decided by 7 points or less: Florida leads 15-6

Baity, MacGinnis Earn SEC Weekly Honors

• Junior cornerback Derrick Baity Jr. and senior kicker Austin MacGinnis were named SEC CoDefensive Player of the Week and Special Teams Player of the Week, respectively, for their standout performances in Saturday's 23-13 victory at South Carolina. MacGinnis also earned one of the three "Stars of the Week" by the the Palm Beach County Sports Commission Lou Groza Collegiate Place-Kicker Award presented by the Orange Bowl.
• This is the fourth time in school history that Kentucky has had at least two players honored for the same game. In 2007, linebacker Wesley Woodyard was SEC Defensive Player of the Week and guard Jason Leger was SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week following a win at Arkansas, while the Cats earned multiple honors in their 2016 victories over Mississippi State and at Louisville.
• Baity was responsible for three takeaways in the game, including making the initial stop on a pair of critical 4th-and-1's in the second half and an interception on South Carolina's final possession. On the first possession of the third quarter, on 4th-and-1 from the UK 49-yard line, he crashed from the corner to tackle running back A.J. Turner, who was brought down for no gain; the change of possession set up a UK drive for a field goal. Later, he again crashed from the corner to tackle running back Rico Dowdle, who was brought down for no gain to give the ball back to the Wildcats.
• MacGinnis drilled three field goals in the win, making him 6-of-7 on the season. Also, his six pinpoint kickoffs kept the ball out of the hands of Gamecock return ace Deebo Samuel and consistently helped the Cats control the field position battle. This is the third time he's been honored as SEC Special Teams Player of the Week.

Cats vs. The Ranked

• Kentucky has played 243 ranked teams in the Associated Press Poll in its history. The Cats are 41-197-5 in those games.
• Florida is the first ranked opponent for the Cats this season.
• UK's last win over a ranked team was last season on the road at No. 11 Louisville, 41-38.
• UK's last win over a ranked team in Lexington was in 2015 vs. No. 25 Missouri, 21-13.
• Florida leads the series with Kentucky 31-3 when the Gators are ranked.

A UK Win Would...

• End Kentucky's 30-game losing streak to Florida.
• Give the Cats 11 wins in their past 14 regular season games.
• Give UK a 4-0 start to the season for the first time since 2008 (at Louisville, Norfolk State, Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky).
• Improve UK's record at Kroger Field to 154-129-4 overall, including 18-13 under Mark Stoops.
• GIve UK a 2-0 record in SEC play for the first time since the 1977 team went undefeated in conference games.
• Be starting QB Stephen Johnson's 11th win since taking over in 2016, ninth as a starter and two in a relief role.

Predicting Kentucky's next five games

Highlights: Kentucky 23 - South Carolina 13

Kentucky Wildcats Basketball TV Schedule

Video - HORSE with the Cats - Shai Gilgeous Alexander

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