Kentucky Wildcats Tackle Florida Gators: UK Seems Prepared to Go Streak-Busting

Dan Bodner@KYHoopsBuzzCorrespondent ISeptember 22, 2010

LEXINGTON, KY - SEPTEMBER 26:  Runningback Alfonso Smith #29 of the Kentucky Wildcats is tackled by Justin Trattou #94 of the Florida Gators in the fourth quarter of the game  at Commonwealth Stadium on September 26, 2009 in Lexington, Kentucky. The Gators won 41-7. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Over the years, it has become almost a foregone conclusion that Kentucky will lose to Florida in football. In fact, the Wildcats have not beaten the Gators since 1984.

Yet, all streaks must eventually come to an end, and Kentucky finally appears to have a legitimate shot at ending this particular one on Saturday.

When comparing Kentucky and Florida, two things are immediately clear. Kentucky is entering the game with more momentum, while Florida has been more battle-tested.

The statistics going into Saturday's game weigh heavily in Kentucky's favor, at least offensively.

Nationally, Kentucky is ranked 32nd in passing yards, 15th in rushing yards, and 11th in points scored.

On the other hand, Florida is ranked 103rd, 52nd, and 32nd, respectively. Florida does have a slight edge on the defensive end as it's ranked 16th compared to Kentucky's 34th in points against.

Yet, these statistics may be a bit misleading.

Kentucky's first three opponents were significantly weaker than Florida's. Thus far Florida has faced Miami of Ohio, South Florida, and Tennessee.

Conversely, Kentucky has faced Louisville, Western Kentucky, and Akron.

Statistically speaking, Western Kentucky and Akron are two of the worst teams in the nation and are both still searching for their first victory of the season.

Nevertheless, Kentucky cannot be faulted for its quality of opponents. The 'Cats have beaten the teams they were supposed to beat and have done it in a convincing fashion, including a 63-28 win against Western Kentucky and a 47-10 thumping of Akron.

The biggest concern for Kentucky against Florida will be the defense, specifically the secondary.

Kentucky's cornerbacks were torched time and time again against Akron. Fortunately for the Wildcats, the Akron receivers were simply unable to catch the ball.

The secondary will not be so lucky against Florida. The Gators' receivers are much more talented than anyone the Wildcats have seen so far this season and are known for making big plays much more often than they do mistakes.

However, Kentucky does have a few things working in its favor against Florida.

First of all, Florida will be without its best receiving threat, Chris Rainey.

The junior wide receiver was dismissed from the team after being arrested on charges of aggravated stalking. The loss leaves Florida with one proven receiver in junior Deonte Thompson, but otherwise a lot of inexperience.

Also, Florida quarterback John Brantley has been somewhat disappointing in his debut as a starter.

His numbers are solid, but he has often looked uncomfortable in the pocket and has not shown the same sort of big play potential that Florida fans were accustomed to with Tim Tebow behind center.

This is evidenced by his pedestrian 5.72 yards per passing attempt and lack of running ability.

Yet, even if the defense fails to contain Florida, Kentucky will still have a fighting chance because of its offense.

The Wildcats have high-scoring aspirations primarily because of wide receiver Randall Cobb and running back Derrick Locke.

Although Cobb gets most of the publicity, Locke leads the SEC and is 12th in the nation in rushing yards with an eye-popping 6.1 yards per carry.

Yet, not only are the Wildcats explosive offensively, they also make very few mistakes. In fact, they are the only team in the SEC that has not yet committed a turnover on offense.

If Kentucky can continue this mix of efficiency and productivity on offense, it should be able to hang with the Gators, even if the game comes down to a shoot-out.