Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Preview and Pick

Florida Gators (4-2) -7, o/u 64 at Kentucky Wildcats (6-1), 3:30 pm Saturday, CBS
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Kentucky Wildcats, fresh off an upset of the top-ranked team in the land, look to continue their Cinderella season when they host the defending national champion Florida Gators in an SEC brawl Saturday afternoon in Lexington.

Kentucky had a good season going into last week’s big game, having already beaten Louisville and Arkansas. But the Wildcats picked up their biggest win many, many seasons when they rallied from a 27-14 third-quarter deficit to beat the LSU Tigers 43-37 in triple-OT as 10-point home underdogs last week. Now, all they have to do is get up for another really big game this week, too.

Florida was 4-0, but lost back-to-back games to Auburn at home 20-17 and at LSU 28-24. The Gators had last week off.

UF has beaten UK 20 times in a row, including a 26-7 decision last season. The Gators outgained the ‘Cats 514-249 and outrushed them 235-39, but couldn’t cover the spread as 26-point home chalk. The game also stayed well under its total of 54.

Florida is 3-2 against the spread this season, Kentucky 5-1. The Gators are 2-2 straight up and ATS in the SEC, while the Wildcats are 2-1 both SU and vs. the numbers in conference play. And while Florida is 1-1 both straight up and against the spread on the road this year, Kentucky is 5-0 SU and 4-0 ATS at home.

The Gators are outscoring opponents this season by a 40-21 per game average, outgaining foes 450-324 and outrushing them 203-94.

On the other side of this match-up, the Wildcats are outscoring opponents 43-26, outgaining them 460-381 and outrushing them, barely, 200-195.

Florida sophomore QB Tim Tebow has performed very well in his first season as the starter, completing 66% of his passes for a 9.8 yards-per-attempt average and a 13/3 TD/INT ratio. Also, Tebow has rushed for 500 yards and nine scores this year.

On the other side, Kentucky senior QB Andre Woodson is making a run toward a date with a certain highly-coveted bronzed trophy, and Saturday’s game could be a clincher. Woodson has completed 64% of his throws this season for a 7.3 YPA average and a very nice 21/4 TD/INT ratio.

These two teams have played one common opponent so far this season. Florida, as mentioned above, lost at LSU 28-24 as seven-point road dogs two weeks ago, while the Wildcats upset the Tigers 43-37 in 3 OTs last week. LSU outgained the Gators 391-314, and they out-yarded Kentucky 403-375.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Florida eighth at 90.2, the Wildcats 14th at 85.0.

Kentucky will be without leading rusher Rafael Little for the second straight week because of a bad wheel. But the ‘Cats got 109 yards on 37 carries out of RBs Derrick Locke and Tony Dixon against that great LSU defense last week.

The o/u is 3-2 in Gators games this season, which are averaging 61 points per, while the totals are 4-2 in Kentucky games, which are averaging 69 points per.

Florida opened as seven-point road chalk for this game, with a total of 63 at most online bookies. And while the line has held steady, the total has jumped a point. Also, the Gators are listed at anywhere from -240 to -300 on the moneylines, with the Wildcats getting around +220 as home dogs.

Zman’s Pick: As much as I hate to suggest laying points on the road, I just can’t see Kentucky sticking with the Gators here.