For the 68th time in program history, the Florida Gators will take on the Kentucky Wildcats as the Gators travel to Lexington for another SEC matchup. Florida will look to capitalize off of a last second Hail Mary from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland that gave the Gators the victory over Tennessee last week.
However, there are a few things to watch for as the Gators look to win their second game of the year.
The main focus will be on Franks to remain consistent against a Wildcats defense that surrendered over 300 yards passing to South Carolina last week. Franks completed 64% of his passes last week to seven different receivers.
It will be crucial for Feleipe to continue to spread the ball around the field. Cleveland is going to be his main target and Kentucky expects that with Antonio Calloway still suspended and possibly expecting further punishment.
In addition to Franks, the ground game for the Gators will need to get moving against a very stout run defense that Kentucky boasts. The Wildcats were able to hold South Carolina to only 54 yards on the ground last week, while Florida gained nearly 200 yards against Tennessee.
Florida is still utilizing three running backs, splitting the carries between Malik Davis, Lamical Perine, and Mark Thompson. With Jordan Scarlett still suspended, it seems that Davis will be the feature back for this game after breaking away for 94 yards on four carries last week.
Still on the topic of the ground game, the Florida defense will need to stop the running game of Kentucky. The Wildcats are averaging over 150 yards on the ground so far this year, thanks to the offensive line creating holes for running back Benny Snell. Snell has rushed for an average of 90 yards per game on the season as well as adding three rushing touchdowns to the mix.
Florida has one of the top 3 defensive backfields in the SEC but they have allowed nearly 200 yards per game on the ground. It will be essential for the Gators defensive line to push the offensive line back and alleviate the pressure for the linebackers.
Kentucky will look to continue their winning ways as they are 3-0 on the season. They have lost 30 straight games to the Gators, dating all the way back to 1986 which is the longest active winning streak in an annual series. The Wildcats will look to break the streak behind senior quarterback Stephen Johnson who has passed for 569 yards and two touchdowns this season.
With the Wildcats looking to end their losing streak against the Gators, head coach Jim McElwain will lead this Florida team into Lexington in hopes of continuing their winning ways.
Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday
The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.
The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:
Coast to coast❗
🐻 at 🐊 2026
🐊 at 🐻 2027#GoGators
— Gators Football (@GatorsFB) February 7, 2020
A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.
With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.
As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.
Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.
It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.
Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.
Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools
National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.
The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of former DB C.J. Henderson.
Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.
The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.
Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?
Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.
The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.
Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.
Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.