Much has been made about the 23 consecutive wins Florida has in the Kentucky series. With Florida in rebuilding mode and the Wildcats featuring talented skill players, this might be UK's best chance for an upset in recent years. But, the Gators will have homefield and still have the better lines and secondary.
The three guys who can cause problems for UF are running back Derrick Locke, wide receiver Randall Cobb and quarterback Mike Hartline. Locke has averaged 124 yards per game this season, plus five touchdowns. Locke could be the guy who wears down the Gators' defense, especially in the first quarter. The UF defense settles down in the second quarter, so it is to UK's advantage to strike quick.
Cobb might be the better option though if UK wants to hit UF fast. Cobb doesn't necessarily need Hartline to become the college version of Tim Couch, since Cobb can run the wildcat or out of a backfield formation. Cobb has 470 yards, including running, passing, receiving and returns. The has scored on the ground (1), throwing (1), catching (2) and returning (1). If Cobb and Locke are in the backfield at the same time, UF knows they can stack the box. When Cobb is outside, I would expect Janoris Jenkins to be on him. If you're thinking Jenkins has not made many plays this season, you would be correct. As we saw last week, opponents will pick on CB Jeremy Brown. In that case, Chris Matthews (seven catches, two touchdowns, 114 yards) will be Hartline's second best option.
In the last two weeks, we saw how the Gators defense handled B.J. Daniels and Matt Simms. Neither was very good throwing the ball, but UF also got push at the front, while mixing their coverages. Also remember that the two big touchdown passes for Tennessee were on blown plays. When UF keeps receivers in front of them, opponents won't score six. Hartline will have to be patient against UF's bend-don't break looks. Those looks will be the biggest adjustment for Hartline. He is a third-year starter and his five touchdowns are half as many as his best season in 2008. But we've seen UF show a 5-2, a 4-3, a 3-4 and a 2-3-6 in which the backers get on the line. If Hartline can throw through the smoke and mirrors without an interception, Kentucky can stay with the Gators. The Cats do not have a turnover this season.
On defense, UK has to shutout Florida in the first quarter. The Gators have yet to score in the opening frame either because of bad snaps, bad playcalling or bad nerves. By the fourth game, you'd think UF would have figured this out. But UK also remembers last season when they allowed 24 points in the first and 10 in the other three. The Cats have not played anyone (their opponents' record is 1-8), but they are 7th in pass efficiency defense and 13th in total defense. They are also averaging three sacks per game. Junior LB Danny Trevathan is UK's leading tackler and the defense's engine.