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Florida football vs. Kentucky: Time, TV schedule, game preview, score

Gators battle Wildcats

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(Rob Foldy/Getty Images)

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – With just one game under their belts, No. 25 Florida and Kentucky jump right into the fire of the SEC season Saturday night in Gainesville. The Gators, in Dan Mullen's coaching debut, come off a promising 53-6 rout of Charleston Southern that vaulted Florida into the Top 25, while the Wildcats used a strong second half to defeat Central Michigan 35-20.

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, SEC Network. LINE: Florida -14

 

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For Florida, there may be no better way to open the conference slate than against Kentucky thanks to a 31-game series winning streak -- college football's longest active win streak in an uninterrupted series and the fourth longest such streak in NCAA history. "These guys cannot worry about 30-some years and all that," Wildcats coach Mark Stoops told reporters. "They really can't. Winning is important to our team each and every week, and that's the approach we'll have." A closer look reveals that the Gators squeaked by in three of the last four meetings, winning by six points or less, including a one-point fourth-quarter comeback victory a year ago. "I imagine one day the streak will be broken," Mullen told reporters. "That's just the nature of sports. But I'm confident. To me, we want to go win the game because it's our SEC opener. That's got to be the whole focus, and not worry about anything else." 

ABOUT KENTUCKY (1-0, 0-0 SEC)

All-SEC running back Benny Snell (125 yards, two TDs) and sophomore AJ Rose (104 yards, two TDs) combined for 229 of the team's 299 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the opener and the two have a one-two punch that has the power to devastate a Gators defense that was surprisingly pushed around by Charleston Southern. Stoops is sticking with junior-college transfer Terry Wilson (78 yards passing, 38 rushing) as his starting quarterback despite an inconsistent three-turnover performance last week that resulted in sophomore Gunnar Hoak coming in to lead the team to a much-needed touchdown before halftime. Led by linebacker Josh Allen, the Wildcats defense proved stingy at times against Central Michigan but will be challenged by a Gators offense that spread the ball around to 16 different running backs, receivers and tight ends in the opener.

ABOUT FLORIDA (1-0, 0-0)

Feleipe Franks showed why Mullen chose him as the starter, becoming the first Gators quarterback to throw five touchdown passes in a game (to four different receivers) since Chris Leak hit six against South Carolina in 2004. Former Ole Miss receiver Van Jefferson caught two touchdown passes in his Gators debut but the running game, despite accumulating 203 yards, was bottled up at the line of scrimmage as the offensive front did not dominate the smaller Charleston Southern defensive line as expected. Likewise, the Gators defense did not exert its will against Charleston Southern's front line, surrendering 222 yards and 5.2 yards per carry, a huge concern heading into a meeting with the Wildcats' powerful ground attack.

EXTRA POINTS

1. Florida leads the series 51-17, and as of Saturday, the Gators' last loss to the Wildcats will be 11,620 days ago.

2. Over the past three years, the Gators only eclipsed the 200-yard mark in eight games, three of which came last season.

3. Under Stoops, the Wildcats have either matched or exceeded the previous season's win total in each of the past five seasons.

PREDICTION: Florida 35, Kentucky 27

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