Florida vs. Kentucky: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, football game time, watch live stream, TV channel

By OnlyGators.com Staff
September 10, 2022
Florida vs. Kentucky: Pick, prediction, spread, odds, football game time, watch live stream, TV channel

Image Credit: Graphic by Michael Nash

The Billy Napier era started with a bang last week as a Florida Gators head coach defeated a ranked opponent in their opening game for the first time in program history. No. 12 Florida and Napier have a chance to double up and add to a short but sterling resume on Saturday night as the No. 20 Kentucky Wildcats visit Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Opportunities to beat a ranked UK team do not come often; in fact, it’s the first time UF has the chance since 2007. The Gators also seek consecutive wins over ranked opponents to begin a season for the first time since 1982. As if Napier did not accomplish enough in Week 1 vs. then-No. 7 Utah, the accolades can continue piling up with a second straight victory on Florida Field.

Sophomore quarterback Anthony Richardson made national headlines last week with a three-touchdown performance on the ground along with a 2-point conversion that will likely be part of season-long highlight packages. Richardson showed out massively, as did Florida’s running backs, which ensured their quarterback had freedom to operate given their effectiveness on the ground as well.

While the Gators did create two key red zone turnovers — one on downs, another a game-sealing interception with 17 seconds remaining — the rushing defense was problematic in the second half with the Utes getting most anything they wanted down the stretch. Florida will need improved play on both sides of the ball to come out on top of a tough and well-coached Kentucky team that will not be intimidated by the atmosphere in The Swamp.

What will go down Saturday when the Gators and Wildcats do battle? Let’s find out.

Tale of the tape

No. 12 Florida GatorsNo. 20 Kentucky Wildcats
Head coachBilly NapierMark Stoops

Injuries and absences

Out (5): QB Jack Miller III (thumb), TE Arlis Bordingham (shoulder), CB Jaydon Hill (lower body), OL David Conner (thumb), LS Marco Ortiz (upper body)

Viewing information

Date: Saturday, Sept. 10 | Time: 7 p.m. ET
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — Gainesville, Florida [88,548]

TV: ESPN (Joe Tessitore, Greg McElroy, Katie George)
Live stream: WatchESPN | SiriusXM: 80 | Radio: WRUF, TuneIn
Live updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter

Game notes

» Florida is 53-19 all-time against Kentucky with wins in 39 of the last 42 meetings; however, the programs are 2-2 in the last four games after the Gators won 31 straight contests from 1987-2017.
» UF is 29-5 all-time against UK in The Swamp with a 20-1 record since 1981.
» The Gators last week won their 33rd straight home opener dating back to 1989, continuing the longest active streak in the nation.
» Jumping from unranked (38th receiving votes) to No. 12 in the AP Top 25 this week, Florida made its largest jump in modern poll history (26 spots) and the fourth-biggest ever for the program.
» Napier became the eighth straight Gators coach to win his first game with the program. Not only that, he is the first coach in program history to defeat a ranked opponent in that contest. (Utah was the highest-ranked opponent Florida faced at home to start a season since 1969.)
» Napier has won 13 straight games dating back to his final season with Louisiana in 2021.
» First-year UF coaches are 10-6 all-time in SEC openers, 3-0 against ranked opponents in such games.
» The Swamp is sold out for the second consecutive week.
» Florida is 170-32 in The Swamp since 1990, boasting the second-best home winning percentage (.842) in the nation across that span.
» The Gators are 7-10 against ranked opponents (2-4 vs. top five teams, 5-7 vs. top 10 teams) since 2018.
» Florida is looking to start the season with consecutive wins over ranked opponents for the second time in program history (1982).
» UF is facing a ranked UK team for the first time since 2007, second time in the last 70 years and sixth time ever. As in that 2007 game, both teams are ranked Saturday.
» The Gators have scored 24+ points in 35 of their last 43 games.
» Florida is one of two FBS teams nationally (Alabama) that has not yet lost to an opponent that finished the season with a losing record since 2004.
» UF has scored in 424 consecutive games, an NCAA record.

Prediction and analysis

Spread: Florida -5.5 | O/U: 52.5

While these teams have split the last four meetings on the field, Florida is 0-4-1 against the spread vs. Kentucky since 2017. This is a different Gators team than the one that floundered under the prior two regimes, but it’s tough to know what to expect Saturday against a Wildcats program that continues to take steps forward under Stoops. Not helping matters is that UF is 0-6 ATS as a favorite dating back to last season, its third-longest streak without a cover since 1978. Perhaps evening matters a bit is that UK struggle to cover on the road against ranked opponents (2-5 ATS, 1-6 straight up in its last seven such games).

Kentucky has been dealing with personnel issues early in the season, though the program is conveniently getting linebacker Jordan Wright back before the Florida tilt. However, the ‘Cats will be without star running back Chris Rodriguez Jr., who rushed for 99 yards and a touchdown against the Gators a year ago in what was actually one of his least-productive games of the season. Despite that and a down effort from quarterback Will Levis, Kentucky still wound up atop Florida at the final whistle. However, the Gators surged offensively last week and appear prepared to fix problem areas identified against one of the top teams in the nation.

This line jumped a full point following Florida’s win over Utah, but it’s still under the key number. Given the homefield advantage of a sold-out crowd in The Swamp, the Wildcats’ strong defense and the Gators’ immediate experience competing against a dual-threat passer with a better team around him last week, Florida and the under are leans here.

2022 records: ATS picks 0-1 | O/U picks 0-1

Odds and ends

» Uniforms: Florida will wear blue jerseys, white pants and orange helmets for the second of six games this year and second straight contest.

» Game night: The Gators have enhanced their night game experience. Expect to see fireworks from atop the stadium along with flame towers, lights and smoke on the field during the team’s entrance.

» Honorary Mr. Two Bits: Track & field coach Mike Holloway, after winning three national championships last year, will enjoy the opportunity to lead the faithful in Week 2.

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