After edging by UMass in the Swamp to start the season, the Florida Gators continue their season-opening three-game home stand by hosting SEC rival Kentucky in Gainesville on Saturday afternoon. The game will air nationally on CBS with kick-off scheduled for 3:30 p.m. The Baltimore Gator Club will host TWO watch parties for the conference opener. Both parties will be at The Greene Turtle with one party located at the regularly scheduled location, McHenry Row in Baltimore, with the other to be held just outside of Annapolis, Md.
Florida (1-0) started the year with a victory at home at The Swamp despite scuffling on offense against UMass. Leading just 10-7 at halftime, the Gators shut out the Minutemen in the second half while adding two fourth quarter field goals and a touchdown to provide the 24-7 final score line.
Making his first start for the Orange and Blue, transfer Luke Del Rio completed 29 of 44 passes for 256 yards and two touchdowns while not turning the ball over. Del Rio connected with eight different Gator receivers, hooking up with both Brandon Powell and Antonio Callaway for scores. On the ground, Jordan Scarlett carried the ball 13 times and finished with 70 yards rushing. The Gator defense, meanwhile, sacked UMass quarterback Ross Comis four times and allowed the Minutemen to gain just 187 total yards.
Kentucky (0-1) looked to be cruising to a season-opening victory while jumping out to a 25-point lead, but collapsed in the second half and stumbled to a 44-35 home loss to Southern Mississippi. The Wildcats were shut out in the second half and watched as the Golden Eagles ran off 34 unanswered points to complete the victory.
Sophomore signal caller Drew Barker led the Wildcat offense by tossing for 323 yards and four touchdowns, but also threw an interception. Garrett Johnson was Barker’s top target, catching six passes for 143 yards and two touchdowns. Kentucky’s defense was gashed by Southern Miss, yielding 520 yards of offense, but did record three interceptions in the loss.
Florida leads the all-time series with Kentucky, 49-17, and owns a 19-10 lead in games played in Gainesville. The Gators have defeated the Wildcats 29 consecutive times dating back to 1987, which ranks as the longest current winning streak for one team over a single opposition in an uninterrupted series and the fourth-longest such streak in college football history.
Last season, the Gators won a hard-fought 14-9 victory over the Wildcats in Lexington to extend the aforementioned streak. Will Grier and Kelvin Taylor both scored first half touchdowns and then the Gator defense limited UK to just two fourth quarter field goals to preserve the win.