Here it is.
After two warm up games against lesser foes, the Florida Gators and Jim McElwain will open the SEC schedule against the Kentucky Wildcats. This will be the first time McElwain takes his team on the road, his first SEC game and his first true test.
I know what you’re thinking. It’s Kentucky, they’ve lost 28-consecutive games against the Gators and this year will be 29. Well, this isn’t your grandfather’s Kentucky.
Mark Stoops has done a very good job building a program that will always be in the shadow of the basketball team and he’s brought a lot of quality players into school. Kentucky is young, but they’re experience and they’re hungry to end the streak that started before any player on either roster was born.
Last season was disappointing for the Wildcats who missed out on a bowl game after a red-hot 5-1 start to the season. They’ll look to get back to a bowl game for the first time since 2010 this season.
Opponent: Kentucky Wildcats
When and Where:
The Florida Gators will travel to Lexington to kick off the SEC schedule on Saturday, September 19.
Florida leads the series 48-17.
The Gators won 36-30 in triple overtime.
QB | Patrick Towles | JR
(225-393, 2,718 yards, 14 TD, 9 INT / 145 carries, 303 yards, 6 TD)
Towles is one of the better quarterbacks returning in the SEC. Towles started every game last season, the first time a quarterback has done that at Kentucky since Andre Woodson in 2007. Kentucky utilizes an Air Raid style of offense that will feature Towles arm. He’s also a threat to run, and at 6-5 and over 240 pounds, he’s a load to bring down in the open field.
Last season Towles threw for three touchdowns and three interceptions against Florida. His 369 yards were the third most that the Gators allowed all season.
RB | Stanley Williams | SO
( 76 carries, 486 yards, 5 TD)
As a freshman, Williams led the Wildcats in rushing attempts (74), yards (486) and touchdowns. The Air Raid offense doesn’t favor running backs but Williams will be called upon to bring balance to the offense and keep defenses honest. Kentucky will need him to pick up the tough yards when they get down near the goal line.
LB | Josh Forrest | SR
(110 tackles, 8.5 TFL, 1 sack, 1 INT)
Forrest led the Wildcats with 110 tackles as a junior and he returns for his senior season as one of the leader on defense. Forrest is the best linebacker that Kentucky has had since Avery Williamson and Stoops needs him to anchor the defense in the middle.
Key Loses: DL Bud Dupree, DL Za’Darius Smith, DB Ashley Lowery
That number has been engrained into the minds of every player at Kentucky. Every player on the roster wants to be part of the team that beats Florida and with the Gators changing head coaches, working in two young quarterbacks and trying to find an identity early on in the season this could be the year for the Wildcats.
Kentucky is finishing renovations on their stadium and the game against Florida will be sold out. This is the first test of the Jim McElwain coaching era and it’s a pass/fail. A loss to Kentucky on the gridiron has become unacceptable at Florida.
I can’t pick Kentucky just yet. The Wildcats don’t have enough weapons on offense to challenge Florida’s defense — not to mention no answer for Demarcus Robinson who had 15 catches for 216 yards and two scores in last year’s contest — and the Gators will make it 29 in a row before turning their attention to Tennessee.