The Kentucky Wildcats will travel to Gainesville in search of an upset against the No. 14 Florida Gators.
Kentucky looks set for a rough season in the SEC after starting the year 1-2 and losing in overtime to Western Kentucky.
The Gators are coming off an impressive win against Tennessee in Knoxville, and they are looking to record a third straight conference victory before taking on LSU.
Here is everything you need to know about the game.
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Gainesville, Fla.
When: Saturday, Sept. 22, 12:21 p.m. ET
Watch: SEC Network
Live Stream: ESPN3
Betting Line: Florida -25 (according to Sports Book)
Kentucky Injury Report (via USA Today)
Trevino Woods—senior offensive tackle is questionable with an ankle injury.
Gabe Correll—senior tight end is questionable with a hip injury.
Josh Clemons—sophomore tailback is questionable with a knee injury.
Glenn Faulkner—sophomore safety is out and expected to return in mid-October from ankle surgery.
Anthony Kendrick—junior tight end is out for the season due to academic ineligibility.
Florida Injury Report (via USA Today)
Matt Patchan—junior offensive lineman is questionable with a strained pectoral muscle.
Drew Ferris—junior long snapper is out indefinitely with a broken collarbone.
Jelani Jenkins—junior linebacker is out indefinitely with a thumb injury
Coby Riggs—junior defensive back is out indefinitely with an undisclosed injury.
Michael McNeely—sophomore wide receiver is out for the season following foot surgery.
Ronald Powell—junior defensive end is out indefinitely with a torn ACL.
BCS/Top 25 Poll Implications
Kentucky will almost certainly remain off the AP Top 25 poll in 2012, and a victory for Florida would do little to improve the Gators’ No. 14 ranking.
Barring a major upset, these two teams will remain in a holding pattern in regard to their respective rankings.
What They’re Saying
John Clay of the Lexington Herald-Leader believes it will be a long season for the Wildcats, as the team simply does not have the talent to compete in the country’s best conference.
How did a program that two years ago appeared ready to step up to the next level suddenly sink toward rock bottom yet again?
If it's college sports, recruiting is usually the answer. The truth is, there is little to no depth in Kentucky's junior and senior classes. For whatever reason, the signees from those years were either non-starters, failed to develop or went by the wayside through attrition.
Matt Watts of the Miami Herald provides convincing statistical evidence to show that the Gators are mentally tougher this year and that the team is proving so in the second half of games.
Last year, Florida was beaten up in the fourth quarter of SEC games by a margin of 72-22. This year, UF has outscored Texas A&M and Tennessee 14-0 and the team holds a 37-6 margin after halftime.
Playing an entire game and not quitting in the fourth quarter was a huge emphasis in the offseason, and that statistics speak for themselves. In the first half of games this year, the Gators are averaging 11.3 points and 160 yards on offense while allowing 12.7 points and 207.7 yards. In the second half, Florida is scoring 24.7 points and racking up 350.3 yards of offense on average while allowing just 4.3 points and 126 yards.
Kentucky Player to Watch: Maxwell Smith, Quarterback
The Wildcats’ pass-heavy offense has required Smith to throw the ball nearly 50 times per game this season. He has completed 68.5 percent of his 149 passing attempts, gaining 966 yards.
Smith has a total of eight touchdowns and four interceptions. All four of his picks came in last weekend’s upset against Western Kentucky, and if he continues to turn the ball over, Kentucky will lose handily.
Florida Player to Watch: Mike Gillislee, Running Back
Gillislee has thrived as the Gators’ workhorse through the first three games. He racked up 346 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 6.2 yards per carry.
The running back was bothered by a groin injury against Tennessee, but he fought through any discomfort to have a fine day. The injury does not appear to be serious, and if Gillislee is completely healthy on Saturday, he will likely be the driving force behind the Florida offense.
Key Matchup: Kentucky Wide Receivers vs. Florida Defensive Backs
The Gators secondary will face a group of big wide receivers for the second consecutive week. Against Tennessee, the team had two pass interference calls and two holding calls (one of which was declined) go against them, as noted by Josh Jurnovoy of the Tampa Bay Times.
The Volunteers were able to cause problems with 6’3” Cordarrelle Patterson and 6’4” Justin Hunter at wideout. The Wildcats will try to do the same with La’Rod King and Aaron Boyd, who both stand at 6’4”.
Key Storyline: Joker Phillips on the Hot Seat
Phillips has started his career as Kentucky’s head coach with consecutive losing seasons. If he cannot find a way to be more competitive this year, he may not be able to keep his job.
If the Wildcats fail to stay in the game against Florida, it will be a sign that the team will struggle against other SEC opponents. A blowout loss in this game could potentially be followed by talk of Phillips and Kentucky parting ways.
Prediction: Florida 42, Kentucky 13
Florida is a significantly better team than Kentucky, and the final score will reflect that.
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