Florida Gators vs. Kentucky Wildcats Picks and Game Preview -- 10/02/2021

by Chuck Sommers

Game time: 6 p.m. ET, October 2, 2021
Venue: Kroger Field, Lexington, KY
Where to watch: ESPN

Opening Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: Florida -7.5; O/U 55; Florida -335, Kentucky +260
BetMGM: Florida -8.5; O/U 55.5; Florida -357, Kentucky +275
Caesars: Florida -7.5; O/U 55; Florida -330, Kentucky +260

Season record
No. 10 Florida: 3-1 (1-1 SEC)
Kentucky: 4-0 (2-0 SEC)

Ben Burns had a solid 3-2-1 week in what was an eventful and upset-filled weekend of college football. Ben is back for his Thursday thoughts on Virginia and Miami, but don’t make a move on it until you check in with him. Catch Ben’s and other plays available right now at the Shop Picks page, where you can find all of the Best Bets from our champion sports handicappers.

Florida - Kentucky game preview and analysis


Recent form
Florida: won 38-14 vs. Tennessee on Sept. 25
Kentucky: won 16-10 at South Carolina on Sept. 25

You talk about domination in college football, and there may be no bigger gap of that (outside of a bottomfeeder playing Alabama) than the Florida Gators facing the Kentucky Wildcats.

What were you doing in 1986? Likely riding in your Convertible with "Master of Puppets" blaring in your cassette player, right?

Well, that's the last time Florida lost to Kentucky in Lexington. Yes, the last time the Gators lost in Kentucky, Larry Bird was schooling dudes and winning a championship on the best team in the NBA; the ball got behind the bag and went past Buckner; and the defending Super Bowl champions were still likely doing the Super Bowl Shuffle.

If you count Kentucky's win in 2018, the Gators have won 33 of the last 34 meetings and once held a 31-game winning streak. If this was basketball, we'd all be shaking our heads at such disbelief.

Dan Mullen's group is coming off a strong Saturday at home against the Tennessee Volunteers, pulling away in the second half and winning by 24 points and covering the 19-point total in their favor. Florida has put together 14 consecutive games of 400 or more total yards, which is the longest streak in the country.

Leading that charge is junior quarterback Emory Jones after two of his best performances of the season. Jones combined for 353 yards (209 passing, 144 rushing) and two touchdowns in what was a dominant second half for the Gators. Justin Shorter had a game-high 54 yards on three catches, but Rick Wells had 39 yards and a touchdown.

Florida also carries a streak of seven straight SEC games of 400-plus total yards. This is going to be a tough test for the Florida offense, facing a Kentucky team that is receiving votes in the AP Top 25, but the Coaches Poll thinks the Wildcats are worthy of the 23rd spot in the nation.

The Gators carry in the ninth best offense in the nation at 540.8 yards per game, and will be facing a Kentucky defense that is also ninth in the country (260 YPG).

Kentucky hasn't had an easy road to 4-0, but the Cats are coming off a six-point road victory over the South Carolina Gamecocks to set up this matchup. Kentucky is looking for its 5-0 start since 2018. Wouldn't you know it? The same year in that Bigfoot-like win over Florida.

Mark Stoops' group is playing a good brand of football at the right time. It was a struggle of a day for Will Levis with only 102 yards and an interception. The game belonged to running back Chris Rodriguez Jr. with a game-high 144 yards to help put the defense in situations to do its own thing. South Carolina's Luke Doty was held to 158 yards, and the running game combined for 58 yards.

Prediction


Since starting 12-26 at Kentucky, Stoops is 41-24 in his last 65 and has molded Kentucky into a contender in the SEC. Whether or not its at the apex of SEC contention remains to be seen ... until Saturday. The Wildcats have not yet had that signature win that says they've arrived in the SEC. That comes Saturday in what's going to be an exciting matchup, where the defense will win the day. If Ole Miss-Alabama is the game of the week featuring SEC teams, followed by Arkansas taking on the Georgia Bulldogs, this is right up there. Kentucky by 6

Betting trends


Florida is 10-10 against the spread as a favorite in its last 20.

Kentucky has won three straight against the spread as a home underdog, and is 12-4 ATS in its last 16 home games.

Players to watch


Florida: Look for Jacob Copeland to get more involved this week. Tennessee’s defense held him to just three receptions for only 32 yards.

Kentucky: Dale Robinson is becoming one of the best receivers in the country with each passing week. Despite being held off the scoresheet last week, he had a game-high seven receptions for 65 yards. No doubt he’s Levis’ favorite target.

Statistical leaders


Florida:
Passing: Emory Jones -- 668 yards, 4 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Emory Jones -- 376 yards, 2 TD
Receiving: Jacob Copeland -- 232 yards, 2 TD
Defense: Zachary Carter -- 4 sacks

Kentucky:
Passing: Will Levis -- 902 yards, 7 TD, 5 INT
Rushing: Chris Rodriguez Jr. -- 513 yards, 3 TD
Receiving: Wandale Robinson -- 402 yards, 2 TD
Defense: J.J. Weaver -- 4 sacks

Don't miss our champion handicappers' free picks and expert football picks today. And if you enjoyed this Florida - Kentucky prediction, be sure to drop by every day for our daily NCAA projections and previews.

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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