(15) Florida 48

(4-0, 2-0 SEC)

Kentucky 10

(2-2, 0-1 SEC)

Coverage: ESPN

7:00 PM ET, September 24, 2011

Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY

1 2 3 4 T
#15FLA 21 10 10 748
UK 3 7 0 010

Top Performers

Passing: J. Brantley (FLA) - 115 YDS, 1 TD

Rushing: J. Demps (FLA) - 10 CAR, 157 YDS, 2 TD

Receiving: L. King (UK) - 5 REC, 50 YDS, 1 TD

Florida-Kentucky Preview


Florida's top-ranked run defense yielded its fewest yards in five years last weekend. That doesn't bode well for a Kentucky team that wants to establish a ground game but just had its worst rushing performance in three years.

Neither does losing the last two dozen meetings.

The 15th-ranked Gators look to shut down the Wildcats' rushing attack and win their 25th straight game in the series when these SEC rivals meet Saturday night in Lexington.

Florida coach Will Muschamp, however, doesn't feel his school's past success against Kentucky has any bearing on this matchup.

"I think it has zero factor in what is going to happen Saturday night," he said. "It's a series of one-game seasons. Whatever you did the last time out really doesn't matter."

His Gators (3-0, 1-0) outscored overmatched Florida Atlantic and UAB 80-3 in their first two games, then opened conference play with a 33-23 win over Tennessee last Saturday. Chris Rainey had 108 yards rushing and 104 receiving, including an 83-yard touchdown catch, to become the first Florida player since Percy Harvin in 2007 to have 100 yards rushing and receiving in the same game.

Rainey has 563 all-purpose yards, but it has been the defense that has keyed the Gators' seventh straight 3-0 start.

Florida, sixth in the FBS in scoring defense at 8.7 points per game, had three sacks last Saturday and held the Volunteers to minus-9 yards on 21 carries. It was the fewest rushing yards the Gators have allowed since limiting Tennessee to minus-11 in 2006.

Led by junior linebackers Jonathan Bostic and Jelani Jenkins and sophomore defensive end Sharrif Floyd, Florida leads the FBS in rushing defense, yielding 92 yards on 74 attempts.

It seems like that could spell trouble for the Wildcats, who would like to emphasize the run game in their SEC opener.

Kentucky (2-1) amassed 323 yards on the ground in opening the season with wins over Central Michigan and Western Kentucky, but was limited to 35 yards on 32 carries in last Saturday's 24-17 loss to Louisville. It was the Wildcats' fewest rushing yards since gaining 35 in a 17-14 loss to Alabama in 2008.

"Anytime you don't have that running game going, it makes you seem a little one-dimensional," quarterback Morgan Newton said. "That's something we cannot be, especially with the teams we play. We have to be efficient running the ball, and we have to be efficient passing it."

The Wildcats were efficient throwing the ball against the Cardinals, with Newton completing 27 of 41 passes for 255 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. However, Newton was sacked six times and had minus-22 rushing yards on 14 attempts.

Tailbacks CoShik Williams and Josh Clemons didn't help much, and the inept ground game left coach Joker Phillips smarting.

"I would have much rather ran the ball for 255 yards and threw the ball for 35 yards," Phillips said. "Running the ball is the key to winning games."

This is especially true for trying to beat Florida, which is 53-1 since 2003 when giving up fewer than 100 yards on the ground.

Kentucky hasn't often reached that mark against the Gators, having lost 24 straight in the series since a 10-3 win in 1986. It's currently the nation's second-longest streak against a major conference foe, behind the Wildcats' 26-game skid to Tennessee.

Florida defeated Kentucky 48-14 last season behind Trey Burton's school-record six touchdowns. The Gators have won the last three matchups by a combined 152-26 score.

"You got to put that in the past," said quarterback John Brantley, who has totaled three TD passes in the last two meetings and has three this season. "That's a cool thing, but we just got to worry about this year."

Although Florida is downplaying the streak, Phillips know it's not going to be easy for Kentucky to get its first win in the series since the year he graduated from the school.

"Huge challenge for us," he said. "We've got to play a clean, fast game with no mistakes. I don't think you have to play perfect, but you have to play smart."


Passing Leaders

J. Driskel52.7928610
T. Harris58.956541
P. Towles58.12542147
R. Phillips22.24501

Rushing Leaders

M. Jones1487615.16
K. Taylor914995.55
S. Williams573626.43
B. Heard663525.34

Receiving Leaders

D. Robinson3956614.55
Q. Dunbar1421915.60
R. Timmons4553611.92
J. Blue2751619.15

Research Notes

Florida has 442 yards after the catch, Chris Rainey has accounted for 50.2 percent of them (222).
John Brantley has completed just 38.9 percent of his throws of 15+ yards since 2009 (0-for-7 against Kentucky).

ESPN Stats & Information