No. 20 Florida visits Kentucky on Saturday in Lexington, Ky., after a 31-17 victory over Tennessee last week.
In Gainesville, Fla., last week, the Gators held the Volunteers to 220 total yards while forcing six turnovers. On the downside, they lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel to a broken tibia in the first quarter.
Junior Tyler Murphy will start under center for Florida against Kentucky after he went 8-of-13 for 134 yards and a touchdown in relief of Driskel against Tennessee. The dual-threat quarterback also rushed for 84 yards and a score.
Kentucky (1-2) is coming off a 27-13 loss to Teddy Bridgewater and Louisville. The Wildcats surrendered 492 total yards in the home defeat while going 0-for-13 on third down.
Does Kentucky have a shot with the inexperienced Tyler Murphy starting for the Gators?
*Statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com
When: Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. ET
Where: Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, Ky.
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Betting Line (via Covers.com): Florida -12.5
Florida Injuries (via USA Today)
Out: TE Colin Thompson (Foot)
Questionable: OL Tyler Moore (Ankle), CB Marcus Roberson (Knee), DE Jordan Sherit (Knee)
Kentucky Injuries (via USA Today)
Questionable: QB Maxwell Smith (Shoulder), LB Kory Brown (Foot)
Top Storyline: How Will Gators Fare with Tyler Murphy at QB?
Before Florida's win over Tennessee, Murphy had thrown one pass in his career at Florida, and it didn't show up in the stats because it came on a two-point conversion.
But that didn't keep Murphy from leading the Gators to victory over the Volunteers. His first statistically official pass was a nine-yard completion before his fifth pass to Solomon Patton went for a 52-yard touchdown to put the Gators ahead, 10-7.
Murphy, rated a 3-star quarterback by 247Sports.com out of Wethersfield, Conn., in 2010, chose Florida over Connecticut, Syracuse and Temple following high school. It took the transfer of Jacoby Brissett and a season-ending injury to Driskel, but here Murphy is, the starting quarterback of the Florida Gators.
According to the Associated Press (h/t ESPN.com), Florida coach Will Muschamp said that Murphy has earned his shot:
One man's misfortune is another man's opportunity. Everybody wants it now. He's a guy that's worked extremely hard and cashed in on his opportunity, and I look forward to seeing him play the rest of the year.
Murphy may not be tested all that much against Kentucky, but the Gators face four teams currently ranked in the top 10 down the stretch, including LSU, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State. It's going to be interesting to see how Murphy performs.
Prediction: Florida 24, Kentucky 10
Florida allowed 21 points to explosive Miami and 17 points to Tennessee. I could see the Gators holding Kentucky to 10 points, even if the game is in Lexington.
It also wasn't like Driskel was playing particularly great football when he went down for the season. He averaged 7.8 yards per pass attempt with two touchdowns to three interceptions. In his 14 pass attempts, Murphy already has a touchdown and is averaging 9.6 yards per attempt. He could be a blessing in disguise.
In any case, the Gators' defense is good enough to keep the Wildcats' offense under wraps. Plus, the run-heavy Florida offense should keep the ball on the ground for most of the game anyway, especially considering that Kentucky is ranked 83rd in the nation in yards allowed per carry.