|GAME TIME||7:30 p.m.|
|STADIUM||Ben Hill Griffin Stadium|
Gators Key Player
With the new offense in town, most of Gator Nation would key in on an offensive player, but this week. Reese didn’t play in the season opener and his status remains questionable. Other linebackers emerged in week one, but the Gators will need Reese to slow down Kentucky’s run game which will be heavily relied on. Reese returns as the Gators leading tackler from last season, something the defense needs to improve on. If Reese is healthy enough to play Saturday, expect to see him flying around the field making tackles.
Wildcats Key Player
Kentucky’s hopes of snapping the 31-game losing streak may solely rely on Snell. Snell ran for 125 yards and two scores in the Cats opener verse Central Michigan. It won’t come as easy for Snell against the Gators however. The Gators aggressive defense is bound to stack the box to slow down Snell. Snell is one of the more respected backs in the conference, but will likely need a career day to leave Gainesville with a victory.
Game Preview and Analysis
The year was 1986. Ronald Reagan was in his second term as president. Top Gun was the highest-grossing movie in box office history. And of course, the forgotten anecdote of the Kentucky Wildcats beating the Florida Gators 10-3.
It’s been 31 years since the Wildcats were able to last beat the Gators, the longest active losing-streak against one opponent in college football. On Saturday, the Wildcats players will travel to The Swamp in hopes of achieving an accomplishment their university hasn’t done since before they were born.
In the midst of the 31 defeats to the Gators are those of heartbreak and humiliation. The most recent coming last fall, when Kentucky had Florida in the palm of their hand, but forgot how to play defense and ultimately lost 28-27.
Now in 2018, the Wildcats will hope to put an end to the streak at 31, while the Gators hope to tally another win in the rivalry while starting conference play on the right foot. The two teams will be battle under the lights in The Swamp until the final whistle blows when the clock hits 0:00. And when that clock hits, the Gators will have extended their winning-streak over the Wildcats to 32-straight.
The Wildcats came close in 2015 and in 2017 which could give them hope this season. But now, Dan Mullen is running the show in Gainesville and will be more than prepared for his SEC-opener as head coach. Also, Mullen is plenty familiar with playing Kentucky, going 8-1 against the Cats when he was head coach at Mississippi State.
As the case the past 31 years, the Gators simply have more talent on their roster than Kentucky. On Saturday, that will play the deciding factor. Also for Kentucky’s sake, a primetime game in The Swamp just makes matters worse.
Kentucky’s hopes of this game way rely on their run-game. Benny Snell has been the Wildcats workhorse running back for the past few seasons and run for 125 yards and two touchdowns the first week of the season. Kentucky’s quarterback, Terry Wilson, is a dual-threat, so expect the Gators to load the box to slow down the run-game. The key for the Gators defense will be to slow down the run-game and make Wilson beat them through the air.
As for the Gators, they will look to build off their 56-point performance on the offensive side of the ball. The Gators won’t put up 56 points again, but I expect Mullen to manage his offense the same. Mullen played to the strengths of his quarterback Feleipe Franks, which resulted in a five-touchdown performance through the air for Franks. Saturday’s game is a big test for Franks, as his development will now be tested by an SEC defense, one he struggled against last year.
Prediction: UF 31, UK 13
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