Originally, Florida was expected to come into this game unranked with a loss on their record. The Gators pulled off the upset against then #7 Utah inside the swamp.
These SEC rivals will meet in front of a sold-out swamp cloud of over 90,000 fans. The winner in this game will be in prime position to determine their destiny as the season progresses.
Last year, the Kentucky Wildcats beat Florida in Kentucky for the first time since 1986. This years matchup might not be as cut and dry as previously thought.
The Florida Gators come into week 2 looking strong led by first year coach Billy Napier and Heisman contender quarterback Anthony Richardson.
Kentucky comes in ranked #20 in the most recent AP poll. Although Florida had an impressive win in week 1, this game against Kentucky will be difficult.
Unlike Utah, Kentucky comes in with a really good defense. The wildcat forced 9 interceptions and 29 sacks in 2021. In week 1 Kentucky recorded 3 sacks and are still looking for their first interception.
On offense, the Wildcats have one of the best quarterbacks heading into this year. Kentucky QB Will Levis is at the top of most draft boards. Against Miami of Ohio, Levis threw for 303 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception.
Fortunately, Kentucky will go as far as the defense lets it. I don’t believe the offense of Kentucky is strong enough to be the sole reason the Wildcats win.
The Wildcats felt the loss of running back Chris Rodriguez in last weeks win against their G5 opponent. The rushing attack was only able to get 50 yards on the ground. Although the Gators allowed over 230 yards on the ground, the Wildcats don’t have anyone with the level or ability as the Utah back Tavion Thomas.
With this in mind, I believe the Wildcats will lean on their defense to test the Gators offensive line. As great as Richardson was in week 1, the Wildcats will force Richardson to make plays from the pocket. The Wildcats have a few studs at linebacker who should be able to keep eye on Richardson if he escapes he pocket.
The Florida Gators played well enough on both sides to pull off the upset against Utah. With that being said, the Gators will need to find QB Anthony Richardson some help on the roster.
Richardson was the leading passer and rusher in last weeks win. Against a better defense it might not be so easy. Richardson completed 70% of his passes but threw no touchdowns. All of his touchdowns came on the ground.
Richardson Heisman campaign began last week and will continue against Kentucky. The Florida offense was balanced and moved well on Utah. The challenge will be if Richardson can throw against Kentucky.
Additionally, we can expect for Kentucky to put more pressure on Richardson compared to Utah. Although the defense will try to key in on Richardson, freshman running back Trevor Etienne will have many opportunities to shine.
Etienne runs hard for a freshman back. Last week, Etienne was able to break off a few solid runs. His vision was really on display against Utah. Kentucky will get a heavy dose of what he can do this week.
The key for Florida will be on the defensive side of the ball. The young Florida secondary will be challenged against Kentucky. The young DB’s will be the difference between the Gators winning this game and losing it.
My Final Prediction: