Florida-Kentucky game preview

September, 21, 2012
9/21/12
8:00
AM ET
Kentucky (1-2, 0-0 SEC) at No. 14 Florida (3-0, 2-0 SEC)
Saturday, 12:21 p.m. ET
Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.
SEC Network, ESPN3.com

Three storylines

1. Streaking: Florida has won 25 consecutive games in the series, which is the nation’s longest current winning streak in FBS by a team over a major opponent in an uninterrupted series. The Wildcats haven’t beaten the Gators since 1986. Most of the games haven’t been close, especially lately. The Gators have failed to win by three or fewer points only once (2003), have outscored the Wildcats 200-31 in the last four meetings, and have won the last eight meetings by an average of 29 points.

2. Quick starts: During the 25-game winning streak, Florida has pretty much won the game in the first quarter (with a few exceptions). The Gators have outscored the Wildcats 313-83 in the first quarter. Kentucky has to keep Florida from starting fast again or it could be another long day in Gainesville.

3. Extra-special teams: UF has made a mockery of Kentucky’s special teams over the past six seasons. The Gators have blocked six kicks (four punts, two field goals) since 2006 and turned all but one of those blocks into points. Last season and 2007 were the only times the Gators didn’t block a punt or a kick against the Wildcats since ’06.

Gators to watch

WR Solomon Patton: He’s not on this list because of his offense. It’s because he’s blocked three punts in his career, and the Gators have had a lot of success blocking kicks against Kentucky (see above).

DE Earl Okine: Dominique Easley is questionable with swelling in his left knee, and Okine and freshman Jonathan Bullard would get more playing time if Easley can’t play. Okine is a redshirt senior who needs to start producing or he’ll get passed by Bullard pretty quickly. Okine has 17 tackles and one sack in 31 career games. Bullard has five tackles in three career games.

LB Lerentee McCray: McCray has emerged as UF’s best pass rusher and is coming off the best game of his career. He will remain at the buck spot the entire season now that Ronald Powell (knee) will redshirt. McCray has already intercepted a pass and forced another interception with a QB pressure.

Wildcats to watch

QB Maxwell Smith: Smith leads the SEC in passing (966 yards) and is averaging 322.0 yards passing per game. The Wildcats run an up-tempo, no-huddle offense and have thrown the ball 151 times in three games, the fifth-most pass attempts in the nation.

LB Avery Williamson: He is averaging 11 tackles per game, which is second in the SEC. Williamson had a career-high 14 tackles in the Wildcats’ overtime loss to Western Kentucky last week.

WR Aaron Boyd: The senior has been a non-factor for much of his career (six catches for 51 yards in three seasons) but is second on the team with 18 catches for 168 yards and one touchdown this season.

Key matchup

Florida CB Marcus Roberson vs. Kentucky WR La’Rod King

King is another big receiver (6-foot-4, 222 pounds) and Roberson had some trouble with Tennessee’s Justin Hunter last week. King leads the SEC in receptions per game (7.7 per game), but he’s not the big-play receiver that Hunter is. King is averaging only 9.3 yards per game. Roberson (6-0, 178) shouldn’t have to give King the cushion he gave Hunter.

By the numbers

12: Number of penalties Kentucky has committed this season (second in the SEC to Ole Miss’ 11). Florida has committed 25, second-most in the SEC to Missouri (26).

15: Number of times Florida has scored 40 or more points in the 25-game winning streak.

33: Number of years since Kentucky has won in Gainesville (1979).

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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