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Kentucky (2-0) at Florida (1-0)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, September 13, 7:30 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (88,548) -- Gainesville, Florida. Television: SEC Network. Home Record: UK 2-0, Florida 1-0. Away Record: UK 0-0, Florida 0-0. Neutral Record: UK 0-0, Florida 0-0. Conference Record: UK 0-0, Florida 0-0. Series Record: Florida leads, 47-17.
GAME NOTES: SEC action will begin for the Kentucky Wildcats and the Florida Gators on Saturday night when the teams square off at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Kentucky has gotten off to a fast start with a pair of home wins over non- conference opponents, downing Tennessee-Martin in the opener, 59-14, and taking care of Ohio University last Saturday, 20-3. The hot start is especially promising for the Wildcats considering their two wins have already matched their total from the 2013 campaign (2-10).
Florida was supposed to begin the year at home versus Idaho on Aug. 30, but after the game was postponed due to severe weather, it was ruled a no-contest and will not be made up. The Gators' false start got them extra amped up to play Eastern Michigan last weekend, as they trounced the visiting Eagles, 65-0.
Not only does Florida have a 47-17 advantage in the all-time series against Kentucky, but its 27-game winning streak over the Wildcats dating back to 1986 is the longest active streak in the nation among annual opponents.
In stark contrast to recent seasons, when Kentucky consistently ranked near the bottom of the SEC in most offensive categories, the unit has started hot this year by scoring 39.5 ppg and amassing 529.0 ypg.
Patrick Towles earned the starting gig in the offseason and has performed well in the early going. He's completing 61.7 percent of his passes for 547 yards with two touchdown and no interceptions while also acting as a legitimate rushing threat (89 yards, TD).
Ryan Timmons is Towles' go-to option at receiver. After a big game in last week's win over Ohio (10 receptions, 95 yards), he sits with 13 catches for 170 yards, both numbers more than double the team's next-biggest producer.
The Wildcats have rushed for 233.0 ypg. Towles has a team-best 25 carries, and Mikel Horton (17 carries, 90 yards, two TDs) and Jojo Kemp (17 carries, 72 yards, TD) split time evenly in the backfield. Braylon Heard, who's questionable with an ankle injury, has only two carries this season (both in the UTM win), but both went for long touchdowns and he still leads the team in rushing (116 yards).
Defense was the point of emphasis when the program hired Mark Stoops prior to last season, and it appears his scheme is starting to pay dividends, as the unit has allowed a mere 8.5 ppg and 310.5 ypg while forcing six turnovers.
A.J. Stamps has racked up a team-best 14 tackles and also has an interception. Khalid Henderson (13 tackles) has recovered a pair of fumbles, Fred Tiller has an interception and four passes defended and Regie Meant has registered 2.0 sacks.
Florida's season debut was an offensive explosion, as it piled up 396 passing yards, 259 rushing yards and seven offensive touchdowns.
Jeff Driskel completed 31-of-45 passes for 248 yards with a touchdown before being pulled late for Treon Harris, who made the most of his two attempts, completing both passes for 148 yards and two scores.
Demarcus Robinson was on the receiving end of a 70-yard scoring strike from Harris in the fourth quarter and finished up with six catches for 123 yards. Mark Herndon also caught a long touchdown from Harris (78 yards) and Quinton Dunbar reeled in five passes for 81 yards.
The rushing attack was spread out, with no player finishing with more than eight carries, but Kelvin Taylor (68 yards, two TDs), Matt Jones (65 yards, TD) and Mack Brown (58 yards) all finished with productive days.
The Gators' defense had no problem shutting down EMU, as they allowed a mere 125 yards of offense while forcing five turnovers.
One of the takeaways was an interception by Duke Dawson, who returned it 36 yards for a touchdown. Neiron Ball tallied six tackles, 2.0 sacks and a forced fumble. Alex McCalister also recorded a sack.
Kentucky appears to be a much improved team on both sides of the ball, so the Wildcats should give the Gators a bit of a fight, but they still aren't quite ready to win big road games in the daunting SEC, especially against a Florida squad that looked so sharp in its first game action.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Florida 27, Kentucky 13
09/10 10:44:44 ET